Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shades of Green ― Ajuga reptans

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

This post continues a series about the color green. Ajuga reptans is an herbaceous perennial, also known as bugleweed. This dense, rapidly spreading and mat-forming ground cover is one of my favorites; I love the glossy, green-bronze-purple leaves. The foliage color is at its best in sun but bugleweed also grows extremely well in shade.

Whorls of tiny, dark bluish-purple flowers appear in mid to late spring on spikes rising above the foliage. When in full flower, large clumps of bugleweed can produce a striking display.
For detail and depth of color click on the photos.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shades of Green ― Hollies

These holly leaves remind me of sea creatures.

This post continues a series about the color green. Glossy English Holly leaves, (Ilex aquifolium) in shades of kelly, yellow-and blue-green, impart a vibrant, happy energy. According to folklore, nine holly leaves gathered on a Friday after midnight, wrapped in a clean cloth to protect against its needles, and tied up using nine knots was placed under a pillow to make dreams come true.

For detail and depth of color click on the photos.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shades of Green ― Restful

This post continues a series about the color green.
Abundant in nature, green is a restful color with calming attributes.
For detail and depth of color click on the photo.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shades of Green ― A Series

Hosta leaves after a summer rain

This post begins a series about the color green, which there is no shortage of this summer in New England. After watching all of June, and now most of July, wash away in a succession of unrelenting rain storms, I have a pretty good idea of what it would be like to live in the Pacific Northwest.

With only a few weeks left to salvage, the last thing I want to do is focus on the fact that summer is slipping away. I've chosen instead to celebrate what has surely become one of the greenest seasons in recent memory.

'Tuning in" to the many shades of green all around me I can attest to the healing and positive vibe this color is known for.

Perhaps you will feel it, too. Click on the photos to enjoy subtle details and maximum depth of color.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Those destined to meet

Daisy has one orange foot.

Princess plays hard and sleeps well.

See the July 9th posting for more about them.

“An invisible red thread connects those
who are destined to meet,
regardless of time, place, or circumstance.
The thread may stretch or tangle,
but will never break.”

~Ancient Chinese Belief

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One-month-old arctic foxes (Photo: Xinhua)

"I breathe in the green grass
and in the flowers, and in the living waters . . .
All these live and do not die because I am in them . . .
I am the source of the thundered word
by which all creatures were made,
I permeate all things that they may not die.
I am life."

~Hildegarde von Bingen

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Visit from a spirit

Rock's hallowed bowl

Trotting by three summers ago

During the 18 years that I shared with my Maine Coon cat Rachmaninoff, I always placed an extra water bowl outside for him. Drinking from this large ceramic saucer was something he loved to do and the fact that many birds and animals enjoyed sharing it with him made it all the more alluring. Taking the bowl inside around the first of November always made me feel forlorn.

Though it's surrounded by two traditional stone bird baths, the ground-level bowl is much appreciated by chipmunks, mice, turkey poults and young birds, and so I have kept it in its rightful place for them to enjoy and, of course, to honor Rock's memory. When I fill it, I sometimes wonder if he can enjoy his favorite water bowl in spirit.

After today, I will wonder no more.

As I was spraying out a bird bath nearby, something streaked by the bowl, a dark flash that I caught in my peripheral vision. A feeling of him suddenly overwhelmed me and I began to cry. For a moment I wondered, and then I knew that it was Rock, in spirit, come to visit. And why not? He lived his entire life here and his happiest days were spent in the garden.

Later, I found a photo of him trotting past the brick planter in a computer file dated 2006 and labeled, "A Long Time Ago." Though it was only three years ago, it does seem like a long time ago now that's he's gone. The blurred look in this photo is akin to what I saw streaking by me today.

I miss my boy. The girls are a comfort, but I really, really miss him.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Paean to July

"Your beauty is familiar
and your voice is like a key
that opens up my soul and
torches up a fire inside of me."

~Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My advice to you

Blue Hydrangea (H. macrophylla)

"Death is a very dull, dreary affair,
and my advice to you is to have
nothing whatsoever to do with it."

~ W. Somerset Maugham

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Pet's Ten Commandments

Tasha (Photo by Donna Joseph) is looking for a home.
Click on her name to learn more.


1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.
4. Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.
7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.
10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can't bear to watch. Don't make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Settling In

Princess (left) and Daisy

"The beginning and the end reach out their hands to each other.” ~Chinese Proverb

Though I continue to grieve for my Rachmaninoff, living is about loving, and sadly, the number of animals waiting in shelters to be adopted has skyrocketed.

From the moment I learned about these Tortoiseshell sisters, I had a fateful feeling. Failing health had forced their owner to give them up just before she entered a nursing home. They had been with her since they were kittens, so it must have been heartbreaking. When I learned about them, they had been in a shelter for months. Princess, who is much smaller than Daisy, has a heart problem and is not expected to live very long, and they absolutely had to be adopted together.

Sensing a connection with them after seeing their photo, but heavy with grief, I put off visiting them. In the meantime, I sought the guidance of my trusted vet, knowing that she would never recommend my taking on another ICU case. We learned that medication would not change Princess’ prognosis, and that all anyone could do was provide a loving home to make whatever time she had left worthwhile. Daisy, however, was in perfect health.

A month after Rock’s death, I went to visit the girls. They were magical, lovely to look at and composed even with dogs barking in the next room. Princess looked and behaved like an active and normal cat. Both conveyed an odd “it is what it is” resignation. And yet, they did not seem sad. Their willingness to make the best of things even though they deserved far better made an indelible impression on me.

But was I ready? I felt certain that adopting them was in no way about replacing Rock. That was impossible anyway. The longer I thought about them in the shelter, the more I thought about bringing Princess and Daisy home.

The girls have been with me for a week now. They turn seven in September, so changing their names seemed disrespectful. Watching them play with the toys Rock had been too sick to enjoy has been bittersweet. They make me laugh and seem to understand when I cry.

Together we are learning to begin again.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Ahimsa is a Buddhist and Hindu doctrine expressing belief in the sacredness of all living creatures and urging the avoidance of harm and violence. Ahimsa or non-violence has been the central doctrine of Indian culture from the earliest days of its history.

Practice of Ahimsa develops love. Ahimsa is another name for truth or love. Humanity attains peace by injuring no living creature.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In a magic wood

“There was in me a secret retreat….Words and cadences haunted it like songbirds in a magic wood, and I wanted to steal away and listen when they called.”

~Edith Wharton
on her desire to write