Through the Lens


“It pleases me to take amateur photographs of my garden, and it pleases my garden to make my photographs look professional.” ~ Robert Brault


I have enjoyed taking amateur pictures of our garden – watching it progress through the seasons and develop over time. But lately, the amateur quality of the photos has been a sense of growing frustration and disappointment instead of joy. So, with appreciation to our Presidents for the three-day weekend, I rented a camera that takes a couple of leaps from my current gear.

When I started studying painting many moons ago, my student tools were inexpensive gessoed muslin canvas, cheap brushes and acrylic paints. I will never forget the first time I put fine sable brushes and a light oil wash to a linen canvas primed with rabbit skin glue (sorry bunny). The paint had a completely different feel, a brilliance and transparency. It did as I commanded – effortlessly gliding into place. That has been my experience behind the lens this weekend. Not just photographing our budding spring…




or happy birds…



but the beauty of the dogs –




and the delight in the faces of our volunteers and families.



“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera” ~ Lewis Hine

Tuesday, I return the camera and turn back into a pumpkin. But something tells me there is a purchase in my future. So when words are inadequate, I can (happily) share our joy in photographs with you.


Rain Glorious Rain


Rain. Glorious Rain.


A Pacific storm – an atmospheric “river” we refer to as the “pineapple express” – dumped a more than generous amount of rain in Northern California setting a record in Sacramento for most rainfall in a 24 hour period. It helped our nearby Folsom lake to rise nearly 3 feet in a single weekend, and the Sierras above us were topped with more than four feet of snow. While we are all soggy and practically swimming in it – we are rejoicing.

Homeward Bound might well be renamed “On Golden Pond.” Our banks have overflown…


And our parched Memorial Garden is a bit under water.


But what a glorious sight it is.




All the dogs got out despite the weather…


and Rocky, Lisa, Zoe and Eleanor managed to get adopted by devoted families that made their way to us despite the downpour.




The trees are practically bursting with joy.


“Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” ~ John Updike

These Pacific storms – which have been absent all winter – typically deliver about a third of our annual rainfall. While this one only puts a dent in our deficit, it is a welcome gift and a hopeful sign of good things to come.



So many have shared a prayer and a rain dance for our golden state. Thank you.


Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.”

My Nemesis

Anna’s Hummingbirds are common in our area and in our garden. If you’ve been a regular reader, you know they are my tormentors making me want to throw my camera in the trash. I hear their tell-tale flutter and I grab the gear. The elusive little beasts disappear. They just toy with me.

For my friends Rob and Maria – on the other hand – they sit on the fence and pose.


They are happy to primp, showing off their iridescent feathers and shocking pink gorget to the two of them.




I just get a long, cold stare and a terrible shot.

Native American legend supposedly holds that hummingbirds poke holes in the sky that become stars – or bring rain through their busy flight.



That must be why I can’t stop them in motion. They are too busy trying to make water fall through the holes in the sky.
We have plenty of plants to attract them. They love this Grevillea with its red tubular flowers…and so many places to hide.

Rob again:


Anna’s Hummingbird. My nemesis. I’ll stick to sparrows from now on.



Where Hope Grows


I took a trip to the river on Saturday. We sit at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers.


At this time of year, the banks are usually under water. Now, there is just dried grass and thistle.


One of my blogging friends said that nature has a way of protecting her garden. This week, she did. We had two days of actual water falling from the sky. When hope gives way, you rely on faith. When faith is not enough, even those with questions turn to prayer. However briefly, they were answered this week.


You could almost feel the budding trees and early spring risers saying “thank you.”



The groundhog saw his shadow and declared six more weeks of winter. We felt its shiver today, and will gladly welcome it if it brings some more wet weather. We may yet see some rain ahead, but not enough, unfortunately, for our ranchers and growers who have been told there will be no release of water this year. We forget that California was once desert.

Our garden is planted with many drought tolerant perennials. Their hardiness will be well-tested. In a supreme act of faith, Ina pruned the plums today.


Filled with fruiting buds – we all said another little prayer.

On the subject of prayer, could you say a little one for Ballou? This shy, scared boy has returned to us because his human mom passed away. It has been several weeks, and I have yet to see him smile. He needs a special someone who understands his worried heart and just wants to hold him close.


And raise a cheer for Ginger. Smiles all around for this gorgeous girl and her new forever home.


“Where hope grows, miracles blossom.” ~ Elna Rae