The Charmed Life of a Garden Cat Named Frida

The north wind that blew in mid-month stayed. Spring is nothing if predictably unpredictable. We went from t-shirts to down jackets and mittens within 24 hours. While the overnight thermometer dropped below freezing for a week, it stayed close enough – thankfully – to have little impact on our opening blueberry and apple blossoms. And now, there is much-needed rain on the horizon. But today, we all soaked up the warm spring sun.

A butterfly (Mourning Cloak?) warming its wings on the stone path and accommodating bunny –

big dogs walking (not available – just visiting)…

Golden dogs lounging (spoken for!)…

And going-home dogs (hurrah for Clooney, Chubbs, and Bear!).

And this?

Not a dog! This is the illusive and rarely seen Frida – the garden cat. I spied her in the field next door alternately basking in the sun, hiding in the mustard weed, and stalking her prey.

We have a few cats at Homeward Bound. Most have to earn their keep as mousers or – like Tory – as our loyal cat-tester. (No cats are harmed in the testing of our dogs.)

But Frida lives a charmed life. After being spayed and vaccinated, she was returned to the garden where she reigns. For the longest time, we only saw fleeting glimpses of her or heard her scurry under the garden shed.

Lately, she has become bolder. Rob and I leave her food and clean water. She has a tiny cat house with a comfy bed in the shed and an igloo outside if she prefers to crouch and watch the world go by. She is a great hunter – which is why I gave up feeding the birds. And she clearly does not want for calories. Recently, she let me get within a few feet of her.

And today, she most definitely saw me stalking her with my camera and decided to pose.

In late afternoon, you might glimpse her circling the garden waiting for all of us to leave. I can just imagine her joy in solitude with only lizards, birds, and tiny mouse meals to contemplate.

Get cozy tonight, Frida girl. The rain will come. But the warm sunshine is sure to follow.

A Change In The Wind

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” ~ Mark Twain

Friday, I played hooky for a few hours and snuck out to the garden. Within minutes, I was peeling off layers like an onion and thinking it was time to move the winter clothes into storage. A week of mid-70’s in early February gets me dreaming about planting spring annuals, but I have wised up a bit through the years.

The city gardens – tucked in and protected from the elements creating their own micro-climate – scream “spring!”

But the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden knows otherwise. A few brave bulbs, the rosemary, and the Ceanothus have appeared,

but the rest of the garden felt a change was in the wind – literally.

It blew in from the north on Saturday – 25 mph of cold in our faces and dropping our reality down a more seasonable twenty degrees. I know. Quit whining. You’re California-spoiled.

Truth be told, none of us are quite ready for spring yet. Spring means summer – and those 100+ degree days will be here soon enough.

So stay tucked under the covers little bulbs, and don’t quite unwrap yet tiny buds –

We’ll take a few more weeks of sweatshirts and Golden blankets.

And some rain would be lovely, too.

“The course of the seasons is a piece of clock-work, with a cuckoo to call when it is springtime.” ~ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Wherever Faith Finds Us

Jack Rabbits_DSC_7343

I find my faith in nature…


the skies, woods, meadows and garden are my cathedral.

Northern Flicker_DSC_1377

I place my faith in something that has no name. All I know is that it greater than all of us.


I try to live my life by one rule: treat others as you hope to be treated.

“Make yourself necessary to somebody. Do not make life hard to any.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Spring is a time of rebirth, celebration and remembrance for people of many faiths.


Regardless of which faith guides you, my hope for all during this special time is to find beauty,








and awe…


that the world might be a better place for all.




“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~ W.B. Yeats


Walking into the Memorial Garden this weekend, I was overcome with awe.


During the week, it seemed like everything was in bloom – like an orchestra moving from chaotic warm up notes to a full blown symphony…


only this symphony was of sight, color and smell. So overwhelmingly beautiful – I scarcely know how to describe it. Everywhere I looked there was a treasure from a previous season making its re-appearance. Our garden is back!


“These beautiful days … do not exist as mere pictures – maps hung upon the walls of memory to brighten at times when touched by association or will … They saturate themselves into every part of the body and live always.” ~ John Muir


The day was punctuated with other happy notes. Young Ava’s birthday present wish was donations of kibble for our pups. It was fulfilled in spades and delivered in person, along with 67 cases of canned food in response to our appeal for a dog whose jaw had to be rebuilt.

Two of our Reservoir Dogs found their forever homes; a third goes home on Monday. Amazingly, Michael – who was one of the shyest upon arrival, was among the first to bloom. His new “mom” Tara was smitten from the first time we wrote about him, checking in weekly on his progress. As soon as he became available, she was on our doorstep, clearly in love.


Joseph will enjoy the company of dogs in his ready-made family…just as soon as he finishes his nap!


Exhausted from a day of planting, hauling mulch and clearing foxtails and about to head home, I was overcome again. Our transport arrived with five more dogs…three with significant medical needs. To watch our team kick into gear, calming fears, reassuringly introducing them to their new surroundings, assessing and beginning to care for their needs…I was left speechless and filled with another kind of awe; esteem and admiration. The beauty of the garden pales in comparison to the goodness and dedication of these people. There truly is magic here.


Rain Falling on Sunshine

There is a saying that God made rainy days so gardeners could get housework done. To heck with that.


We had two storms move through this week. While they didn’t put a significant dent in our drought situation, the rain did bring welcome relief to our thirsty trees and gardens.


Paired with warm temperatures, the flowers, leaves – and weeds – are exploding.


So, a showery – sometimes rainy – day was not going to deter us from enjoying the early spring celebration, or getting a jump on weeding. Maria and I arrived early to find the daffodils, tulips and rosemary blooming, the willow tree leafing, and the lawn freshly mowed for the first time this year (thank you, Rob).





The rainy day also brought a welcome guest. Tigger went home a month ago as a foster. We do that when a dog is being medically treated to carry the cost of care for the family, and to ensure that all will be well before an adoption is finalized.


When Tigger went home, he was suffering from still uncontrolled diarrhea. For that transgression, he had been surrendered to a shelter where his fate would be clear. The team brought him to Homeward Bound.


While he improved with medications, he needed to be in a stable, home environment. After a month with his amazing new family, his health is back on track, and his weight is up by six pounds.


Clearly surrounded by love, he is a totally different – and completely doted upon – dog. His adoption was finalized.


“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…”It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine.” ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden



The gardener as instrument

“All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” ~ Helen Hayes


My friend Tanner is still dreaming…while I am working.


But what a wonderful feeling to weed and mow and trim as the Memorial Garden bursts forth around me.


Two different visitors confessed today that they never believed this garden would be realized.


I guess there is no telling what a few devoted gardeners can accomplish.


All of last season’s hard work is evident again.


Even those we thought were lost, like this butterfly twig bush is now making a comeback.


“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.” ~ Geoffrey B. Charlesworth


“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ~ Margaret Atwood


Dirt, and dogs, I say. And I so happily do.