common bonds

These are both Clematis vines.


As different as they look, they are but two of some 300 species in the same genus.

Like the Clematis, my sisters and I appear very unalike. We could not have begun on more different paths; but as we age mature, the roads have merged. Instilled in all four of us is a common passion for rescue.  Rescue of different sorts, albeit; but rescue, nonetheless.

Susan is a natural history biologist, dedicated to the rescue and restoration of native glades and woodlands. When she is not identifying plants or tagging bears (rest assured, is very much alive and safe!),


she is setting fire to one state park or another to return it to its natural state.


My sister, Beth, is the rescuer of humans. For years, she nursed babies and children as a pediatric ICU nurse. Today, she is a school nurse who will be spending her summer with Blue Skies Ministry, providing retreats to families faced with the enormous emotional, financial and spiritual challenges of childhood cancer.

I spend my days with a small army of people who disabilities who need no rescue – only opportunity. My weekends, as you know, have gone to the dogs.



Finally, there is my sister, Debra.  An accomplished business professional and writer; she left that world when life changes demanded a less stressful pursuit. She trained and worked as a vet tech, then a pet sitter, and because she is who she is – launched her own very successful pet sitting business. Despite the demands, her passion for the work brings balance to the hectic schedule and strenuous pace. She is deeply involved with an effort to capture, spay, treat, release and care for feral cats in her community, thereby humanly reducing the population over time. Best of all, she has recently returned to writing through her new blog: “The Blessing of Animal Companions.” I thought some of you would enjoy it.

I was particularly taken with this section of a Robert Frost’s poem she quoted as she wrote about the evolution of her life’s work:

My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only when love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes
Is the deed ever really done

For Heaven and the future’s sakes. ~ Two Tramps in Mud Time

I marvel at how the brain, jock, geek and cheerleader have found such common sense of purpose in our avocation and vocation from such divergent paths. I’ll leave it to all of you to figure out which is which, by the way.

Pieces of the Heart

This is a story we have heard too many times through these past recession years: good families who love their four-legged family members, but are forced to surrender them due to circumstances beyond their control.


Roxy’s family loved her dearly, but had to move to an apartment and could no longer keep her. Now due to circumstances beyond her control, and through no fault of her own, twelve-year-old Roxy is in search of a new family to love.


Lucky for her, she is being lovingly cared for by foster mom, Michele, and her rescued twin, Murphy. Michele does not want Murphy labeled as a failed foster. Actually, I assured her, she is the failed fosterer; Murphy is a proud alum! Besides, we have a special place in our hearts for failed fosters.


Roxy does not look or act her age. Although she is a little slower getting up these days (who isn’t??), she out walks Murphy and has plenty of energy for snuggling, cuddling and leaning in to steal just a little of your heart.


For people who worry about adopting an older dog, we have two thoughts: first, there are no guarantees in life. Young or old, we never know how many tomorrows we’ll be blessed with. Second, it’s not the length of time that we love, but the quality of time we have together.


“It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” ~ Cheryl Zuccaro

Taking a small leap of faith to open your heart to a senior dog delivers countless blessings. Roxy has put her faith in Homeward Bound that we will deliver a blessing to her very soon.

Dahlias returned

Before I began this journey to rebuild the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden, I had no experience at all with Dahlias. They were the gift of a volunteer gardener and fell into my charge. I watched them blossom through the summer into magnificent plates of color and fell in love.


I dutifully dug them up in the fall; placed them in a box of vermiculite following instructions I had read, sprinkled lightly with water and a little prayer, and then left them covered in the dark, cold garage. Every six weeks or so I would open the box and add a few more sprinkles to ensure they didn’t dry out until this weekend, when I pulled them out of darkness. To my delight and amazement, each “eye” had a tiny shoot springing forth. Today, they were returned to their spot in the garden. With any luck, the Dahlias will spring forth within a couple of weeks.


“Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.” ~ Shigenori Kameoka

All sorts of little joys were sprouting forth in the garden this weekend; the arrival of blueberries where thorny blackberries once ruled,


Blooming Honeysuckle and Clematis


Jerusalem Artichoke and Rose Campion…


and multiplying gardeners! Randy and Vonnie were back to check in on their recently planted Butterfly Garden, to continue the attack on the driveway brush, and to take their latest adopted pup, Chelsea to training class.


One of our dog walkers recruited her mother, a seasoned gardener to join our effort. It is a great way for them to have some time together around shared passions, and we could not be more delighted. Welcome Diane!


And our newest recruit, is but a sprout herself. This is Alexandria.


Her dog goes to class on Saturdays, and while she waits, she loves to wander the garden. This week she helped me with weeding and watering while she explained photosynthesis to me at a million words a minute. A gardener is born.

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” ~ Gertrude Jekyll

Finally, this sweet girl, Roxy, and her foster mom, Michele, were a surprise find and a story all their own. More on them to come soon!


Until then…happy week…from the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden!


The Divine Miss Bea

When Beatrix needed a few days of fostering before her new family could take her, it was easy duty to sign up for. Who could resist this face?


It was really less fostering than babysitting. This little one-kidney girl needed a watchful eye as she healed from her spay surgery, and a little big-dog socialization wouldn’t hurt considering she would be sharing her new home with an adult Homeward Bound alum.


Jackson is our mellow boy; he has never met a dog he doesn’t like so I had no worries at all about him. Despite his serious face, he is a lover, and took to her immediately, acting as her protector –


an ever-present, watchful knight.


Bella is our princess girl. And while she loves and shares with her brother freely, she was unimpressed with this cute little bundle of joy,


and not exactly overjoyed about sharing her house,


her Daddy,


and definitely not her toys with little the brave little Miss Bea.


While Bella generally behaved herself, she was clear that there is room for only one princess in this house!


All of this was good preparation for her introduction to her new big brother, Charlie. Apparently he is as tolerant as Jackson. A good thing for this rascally girl! Puppy got your tail?


It was a gift to have her for a few days. She left behind a mountain of laundry, two exhausted doggies, and took with her a tiny piece of my heart.


Wonderful life, little Beatrix girl.

The language of flowers: Iris


The story of the Iris flower dates back to Ancient Greece, when Iris, the Goddess of the rainbow, acted as the messenger between heaven and earth. She traveled from one world to another, carrying messages across the arc of the rainbow. Purple irises were planted over the graves of women to summon the Goddess to guide the dead in their journey. Today, the flower named for her is considered a symbol of communication and messages.


In the language of flowers, the Iris means faith, hope, and wisdom. The purple iris is symbolic of wisdom and compliments;


blue symbolizes faith and hope;


yellow symbolizes passion;


and white iris symbolizes purity. It’s fitting that they are found in abundance in the Memorial Garden, where our passionate angel volunteers travel the state to rescue and return lost, displaced and broken dogs to a place of faith and hope.


A perfect statement for our mission – standing tall and beautiful this spring in the garden.

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”
-Lady Bird Johnson

Down the rabbit hole

If you think plant names are challenging – try coming up with unique and memorable names for thousands of rescued dogs. Lately, we have resorted to “months” – artist month, musician month, etc. This is writer month. Which is how this sweet little girl acquired the name Beatrix Potter.


She is a breeder surrender with only one functioning kidney. That makes her imperfect in a breeder’s eyes – but certainly not in ours, or in the adoring eyes of the family that adopted her today.

It is fitting that Beatrix Potter’s namesake should be represented in the garden today. The author of the Tale of Peter Rabbit must have inspired the return of our bunnies who have tunneled two burrows under our prized blueberry bushes. You might remember that this was the former site of the dreaded blackberry bramble. As fate would have it – the bramble served as the bunnies’ previous home. They have apparently returned to take their revenge!


Beatrix Potter wrote, “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”


The Memorial Garden is like that. Begun with a desire to contribute to the rescue’s mission, it has taken us down the most wonderful rabbit hole of friendship and extended Homeward Bound family.


Today we met to re-work Randy and Vonnie’s butterfly bed. All but the roses were lost in last December’s deluge.


So we regrouped; raised the bed; and planted a host of perennials for attracting butterflies: Bee Balm, Milkweed, Sage, Yarrow, Coreopsis, Penstemon, Lantana, and more. The bed will be quite a showpiece in a month or so – befitting its position in the center of the garden.


Then, it was time for a doggie parade.


Dressed to impress with colorful collars and leashes donated by the generous folks at Lupine, we took photos to create an appropriate “thank you”.


Some of us were more into hamming it up and cuddles than modeling, but everyone knows that looking good is important to a dog’s self-esteem!


When you look good, you feel good…and you never know where that will lead a rescue dog. Maybe even to a forever home!


Remaking our corner

“It is far easier to start something than it is to finish it.” ~ Amelia Earhart


I asked my painter friend recently: “how do you know when it is done?” She had many answers, but the bottom line was that it rarely was. She confessed to reworking a canvas as much as a year after she put it down. The Homeward Bound Memorial Garden is like that for me – much to my fellow gardener’s chagrin. They laugh at my long list of projects and inability to leave things alone.


Sunday, we re-worked the Butterfly garden which has been conspicuously absent of Butterflies. We pulled up the large, heavy bark –


and started loading in piles of soil to raise the new transplants so they won’t sit in the winter water that floods the garden in December and January. Butterfly Bush, Monarda, Yarrow, Milkweed, Coneflower, Sage, Verbena, Lantana, and more will provide a welcome home.

While they mock me, I see them making plans of their own. With the ground work begun in the Butterfly bed, Maria had us turn attention to the herb garden. We love our pups; but not the way they relieve themselves on the herbs. So we have devised a scheme to put flowers in front and raised herbs in the rear.


Ina, meanwhile sneaks off to “contemplate” – which is almost always followed by a burst of fresh perspiration inspiration. This time, she has designs on the leftover stone. We’ll see what masterpiece she cooks up next.


The dogs? They just laugh. Unsure why anyone would want to work so hard when there are walks to be had –


apples to be retrieved…


and little boys to be played with.


“Gardeners are – let’s face it – control freaks. Who else would willingly spend his leisure hours wresting weeds out of the ground, blithely making life or death decisions about living beings, moving earth from here to there, changing the course of waterways? The more one thinks about it, the odder it seems; this compulsion to remake a little corner of the planet according to some plan or vision.” ~ Abby Adams, What is a Garden Anyway


Compulsion or not, this little corner of the planet seems a little better for the effort.