Monthly Archives: June 2015

Evening Walkabout

Garden Wall

It turned out to be one of the rare evenings this June that it didn’t rain so I decided to take a stroll around the yard before weeding. I started at our “Secret Garden” across the driveway from the house. It’s not very secret but I do find that it holds magical things.


I enter through the archway with its large wooden doors and veer to the left. Taking the brick walkway the first site is a raised sandstone flowerbed with a beautiful red shrub called a nine bark.

Star gaze lilies

I  look down the path and see and smell the new Stargazer lilies. They were a recent gift and much appreciated.


As my walk continues I have to stop and look at “my” urn. I never tire of its beauty. This was picked out of the dump at a local cemetery. I couldn’t bear the thought of it being lost to a landfill, so home it came.  It’s probably from the Victorian era and I could not let it meet its demise after surviving for this long. The world needs this kind of beauty and history in it.

Summer Fountain

I turn back before I leave this garden to enjoy the patio and fountain. This was once a side yard with nothing but lawn. Lawn is nice but this is better. You may have guessed that we don’t have many idle moments in the warmer months. I am fortunate to have a husband with the desire and ability to create and build such things.


I continue my evening ramblings and end up in what we call the spoke garden. The center consists of a witch hazel bramble surrounded by five small mounds with various types of plants in each. This is in the very corner of our property. There is a street on two sides with a stop sign in the corner. It is just four feet beyond the row of shrubs. When I come home I feel safe and insulated from the happenings of the world and this little garden illustrates why.


Lest you think we only do ornamental gardening I walk past the vegetable garden and get pictures of the cabbages and beets. For some reason these shots make me think of Peter Rabbit, sans rabbit.


But then I have to stop and take a picture of this petunia that grows on the border between the herb bed and vegetable garden. I put it there because I thought it would be nice to have something pretty to look at while tending to the vegetables. Why should we confine beauty?


And on my way back into the house to cook dinner, I pause just long enough to take this last shot of a fern that grows beside the door. I have tried to grow flowering plants here without great success. It is in the pathway that the dogs take as they run back to the house.

Shelby and Baxter

And for me, it is always about the dogs. Dogs win. So I reserve this little bed for green things such as ferns. And this suits me well enough.

Gifts of Patience


I seem to find opportunities to build the strength of patience all around me lately. I think this might mean that I am cranky and impatient. Never the less this gives me the chance to work on this virtue.

Our family was very fortunate this year to have the largest crop of cherries that has grown in the almost 12 years that we have lived here. You can see them in the basket. We think that they are Queen Anne cherries or a similar variety. They are heirloom and organic. Not to mention delicious. It took three of us 20-30 minutes to pick this many cherries. Now I must have the patience to seed all of these cherries and make them into a pie. At least this has its own rewards!

Service Berry Pie

It also took a certain amount of patience to pick all the berries for this service berry pie. As I stood in the puddles of rain water from our continual storms as of late, I was swarmed by mosquitos. I knew if I wanted the pie that this was my only chance. The berries are only on the trees for a short time before the birds eat them all. This took patience, and swatting, to finish the job. The prize was worth it. It was the first time we had enough service berries to bake a pie. It tasted like a cross between cherries and plums and another unidentifiable but heavenly flavor.


I had a chance to exhibit patience last evening as well. On a therapy dog visit to the care facility as we sat and conversed with our friends there was one lady who was telling tidbits from her life. She shared with us the fact that she had a dog named Trixie who was like a member of her family. She shared this great revelation with us about 10 times. To be honest it didn’t take much patience for me to listen to her repeat the tale. It made her so happy. And we never ran out of things to talk about or had that awkward silence. She could always tell me about Trixie again. I would want someone to show me the same kindness.

Gracie and Zoey

(Picture of two past foster dogs, Gracie and Selah, now in a loving home.)

And when I got home last evening I called a lady that I was told needed some rescue help with her dogs. It turned out that she did not think she needed help from rescue. She had found help in the form of two young people to assist her with day to day dog care. I pray she is right. But I listened to her tell me about their bloodlines starting 30 years back. And various animals she had rescued over the years. Not to mention information about her fantastic memory and other information about her family. This was all well and good. That lady sounded lonely and was in need of an ear to bend and  to share her troubles. It gave me time to practice my skills of patience. And keep a good rapport and the lines of communication open on the chance that there is ever a day when those dogs do need us.

So the easier times of having patience to do unimportant things like pick fruit to make a pie, are training for things of consequence like improving lives. Lives of dogs and lives of people. Rescue work is multi-faceted.

My Three Mothers


I have been fortunate to have the blessing of multiple good mothers. “Multiple mothers?”, you may wonder? Yes, there are three. They have overlapped in time so that most of my life I have had more than one at once. Lucky me!

First there was my biological mother. She passed on last week and that is what got me to thinking about the whole concept. She, obviously, gave birth to me and raised me. She was a good mother. Always looking out for my best interests and preparing me for life. I have many fond memories of her even though she had been ill for some years now.

Then came my second mother. She is a strong woman who does good things in her community. She loves all the furry creatures and on this we certainly connect. She started out as my mother-in-law, the mother of my first husband. He and I parted ways some years ago. But his mother, I kept. (Along with some of his other relatives.) We are still in contact and love to visit with each other and catch up. So, in my mind, after the divorce his mother “graduated” to become mother #2. You know the saying, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water? Applies here. The ex-husband goes but the family stays. I made out pretty well in that deal. I love them.

And then there is mother #3. I was fortunate enough to gain her as my mother when I married my current husband. What a wonderful lady. She is kind and caring and understanding. Not just with me but with the world in general. She also serves her community in many ways. I can learn a thing or two from her about forgiveness and tolerance. From my experiences in life I have learned a thing or two so she has already “graduated” from mother-in-law to mother in my life.

These mothers have all been a blessing. Some people do not have the benefit of knowing even one mother in their lives and I have been given three. My cup runneth over. They have all loved me and helped to guide the course of my life. The old mother-in-law stigma has not been true in my life. I have received positive experiences and acceptance. I look at the list of “Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World” hanging by my desk and realize that each of my mothers has been an example and helped me realize multiple insights on the list. Here is the list:

Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World

1. Change Yourself

2. You Are in Control

3. Forgive and Let Go

4. Without Action You Aren’t Going Anywhere

5.Take Care of this Moment

6. Everyone is Human

7. Persist

8. See the Good in People & Help Them

9. Be Congruent, be Authentic, be your True Self

10. Continue to Grow & Evolve

If I were to write about the examples each woman gave me in regards to this list, the pages would be many. I would have enough material for a book. There are lessons to be learned from people all around us if we take the time to learn them. I hope to honor these women by the life I live.

What I Chose to Do the Day My Mother Died


My mother died this past Monday. It was a sad event but then again, it wasn’t . She suffered from a lengthy and ongoing illness. She is at peace now and with this comes a sense of relief. It is sad for me because it brings to mind the woman she once was. I miss that woman. I have missed her for a long time now. Her passing makes the memories fresh again.

We knew that her death was imminent but didn’t know exactly when it would happen. So I had plans already scheduled for the day she died. I thought about cancelling them, after all my mother just died. Everyone would certainly understand. But I  decided to honor my obligations. They would mean something to the ones I gave my word to. For you see, I had agreed to provide therapy dog visits at the nursing home.

I’m sure no one would hold it against me had I canceled. But I could stay at home and be sad or I could go make people happy. Always choose happiness!


So I loaded up the dogs and we set out on  a mission of love. Now lest you think, oh what a selfless soul, I must confess that I get at least as much out of these visits as the residents do. If you read the studies you will find that participating in animal assisted therapy releases “feel good ” chemicals in the body. And I always feel great by the time I go home!

Phoebe, Shelby, and Friend

So as we go around, hopefully spreading joy, we are also receiving joy. It’s a two way street. And I get to hang out with people who want to hear me talk about my dogs. Pretty selfish really.  A couple of the people make sure to visit with us every time we are scheduled to come. They are now my friends. So although it may look like I am providing a service, I am really receiving a gift.

This visit becomes a tribute to my mother. For in her days on this world she taught us to live and love always. Make the most of each opportunity for it may be short.

Why I Like My Life, Part l


This was a good day. I volunteered at a Pet Expo today to promote the dogs of Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. Above you see Nikki at the beginning of the day and on the ride home. It was a busy and tiring but good day. We worked the whole day and talked to probably a couple hundred people.


This is Shelby at the beginning of the event and again near the end. Please note that while I was equally tired, I did not sleep on the drive home. That’s why I’m the mom. Shelby and Nikki were excellent ambassadors for their breed. People sometimes ask why I  take my own dogs to these events and not our available adoptees. With so many people around I don’t like to take dog/s that I may not know that well. It is a stressful situation for a dog  and I want a dog that I can rely on and predict their behavior. Shelby and Nikki are very  reliable. I  know what to expect from them. They also know that they are safe because I will protect them.

I am free to have a good time because I know how my dogs will behave. And I do have a good time! I have been a part of the doggy world for some time now. I  see old friends from various breed rescues and shelters so i take a few minutes to catch up with them. I  see newer acquaintances from the training club. And just friends in general because nearly all of my friends have dogs. I even see people and dogs that I tested and certified to be therapy dogs.

Stroller full of shelties

And I see folks that I recognize from previous years. Would anyone like a  stroller or two of shelties? I don’t really know these people but I can tell you I like them. They are my kind of people! 20150606_20525820150606_205358

Another good thing about these events is the vendors. They sell things that suit my taste as a discriminating dog fanatic. See my new earrings above.

So it was a successful day. Life is good. We talked with people, promoted our dogs, sold a few things, and made contact with some potential sheltie adopters. And with so many rescue groups present there is no doubt that some lives were saved and new family units formed. So once again, namaste.


Shelby, Phoebe, and Baxter

Last evening I had a decision to make. I was at home, finally, after working for 10 hours. There was much to be done. Things to clean, things to put away, preparations for the next day. But I looked at these eager faces, smiling at me and ready for whatever attention I would give them. So what did I choose to do? I loaded these three up in the car and we went for a long walk.

West BranchWest Branch

We went to West Branch State Park which is about 10 minutes from our house here in northeastern Ohio. This is the beauty that greeted us as we began our walk. This was a heck of a lot better than cleaning!


And I got to spend it with these three beautiful faces. I think that I chose wisely. One of the reasons that I like to walk here, aside from the beautiful scenery, is that I can let the dogs walk off leash if there are not too many other people around. The dogs know they are given a privilege and prance so proudly to know that I have unhooked their leashes and trust them to stay with me. Occasionally we encounter other walkers or bicyclers and I briefly leash the dogs back up until they pass. Not so much because of the dogs but because I don’t want the other people who are out enjoying their evening to be afraid. I want to be a good steward of the trail so that dogs will continue to be welcome. Baxter, in particular, gets much more exercise when he is off lead. He runs 20 feet or so ahead and circles back behind and continues to make this loop as we walk so he can monitor and sniff the area. He walks much farther than the rest of us with his loping circuits of the path. Baxter’s behavior is excellent when he is loose. When we see someone approaching, I can just tell him “over here” and point to where I want him to walk and he will stay next to me until the person passes. He is very reliable on this and I can tell that he understands because he keeps looking up at me and communicating “I’ve got this mom”. I will leash him up if I think he will make the other people nervous when they pass. Shelby and Phoebe I do usually leash up because there is an even chance that they will go up the person and demand to be petted. This might be intimidating for someone who doesn’t know them.

West BranchWest Branch

As we go about our walk I notice that the landscape is really quite impressive. It is a calm evening so it is quiet. One of the sounds that I do hear and love is the sound of the waves on the water. This, I thought, is not so far removed from the views I love to see when I go to Maine.  Each place has it’s own beauty if you are able to see it.

West Branch

Life is good. There is beauty to behold and I am able to see it in the company of three of my dogs. It doesn’t get much better.

West Branch Sunset

By now it is sunset and we close out the evening with this last view. Earlier I had a choice to make of how to spend my evening. I think that I chose wisely. This is an experience that I will remember fondly.

End of the Evening

And although it was getting dark by the time we got back to the car, you can see by these happy faces that they also think that I have chosen wisely. Let the adventures continue!

A Fortunate Investment


Things are really kicking into high gear in the gardens. This provides me much new subject matter but less time to write! Maintaining and upgrading these gardens does involve a little bit of time. I was going to say “unfortunately involves time and work” but decided it was not unfortunate. I would not appreciate the beauty nearly as much without the time investment. Planting, mulching, weeding, fertilizing, and otherwise tending these plants and gardens makes me appreciate them all the more. Working so closely with them I also see tiny changes and bits of beauty that I might otherwise overlook. I guess what you put in, you get out. Above is my new climbing rose called America. The tag says it is a coral pink and I love the color. It has the best bits of all colors, a little pink, a little peach, a little red in the buds. It has it all. I am also hoping that I have found a climbing rose that will survive the cold of the recent winters. We will see. For now I am enjoying the beauty.


I move on to another garden and see one of our nine barks in full bloom. The foliage is the main draw on this shrub. It has attractive red leaves and weeping branches and, you guessed it, various types of bark. I don’t think it is known for its blooms but as you can see, it does briefly, put on quite a show. It reminds me of something that should be a wedding decoration.


This is a shot of the corner garden. Over the nine bark you can see the red buckeye and the arbor vitae in a row on the corner of the yard. All this hides the stop sign and the corner intersection. Just one example of plants beautifying an otherwise mundane area.


This is one of our two red wygelia. The blooms are glorious if short lived. It is an attractive plant with its red leaves, even once the blooms are gone. I understand that they can become quite large. I will have to report back to you on that in a few years.


This is one of the verbena we have in planters on top of the garden wall. They were recently planted but already starting to become something I like to pause and look at on my wanderings around the yard.


And of course, the peonies. They are one of the best things about this time of year. They smell heavenly and are beautiful too. The mass of them is eye catching from a distance and they are equally impressive individually. I need to get more of these beauties! They come in other lovely colors too. I planted a Sarah Bernhardt last year but although it is growing well, peonies are slow bloomers so we will hope for blooms from it next year. Meanwhile, it is peony season so I will enjoy the show.