Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reflections on Disaster and other things.....

In light of the recent disaster here in Washington State, I thought I would share with you some information. 

This is a photo from the Tacoma News Tribune. 

You can find more photos and information here.

This is such a horrific disaster and our hearts and prayers go out to all the families affected by this tragedy. 

Here is a split map to give you some perspective. 
The tiny town of Oso is approx. 55 miles Northeast of Seattle. 

We are located directly south as the crow flies, in between Seattle and Olympia about 100 miles away. 

Washington State is larger than some countries. 

With a heavy heart I ventured outside in the warm spring sunshine yesterday 
to work on my 'bench garden'. 

I had some help pulling a large root from Champ.

I found Champ on the Border Collie Rescue site. His foster care-giver was ready to give up placing him. 

He was given up for adoption for bad behaviors due to excessive teasing, (a family with two teenage boys) which led to him being locked inside a garage due to his subsequent aggressive behavior. 

Teasing a dog is abusive behavior. 

It leads to aggression and frustration, especially with an extremely intelligent dog like a Border Collie. 

He was highly reactive to many things, including loud noises, machinery, 
other dogs and people, and even shadows. 

He was starved, and gulped food and treats so fast, 
it caused blockages in his intestines for which he needed two surgeries.

But fate intervened and he was found by his loving foster care-giver, 'Joy' 
who trained him to be more patient and less reactive. 

Still, he was a handful. She was ready to give up placing him and keep him herself. 

If we had not come along, who knows what would have happened because a few months after adopting Champ, Joy died in an avalanche.
A tragic end to a dear, loving soul. 

We have had him nearly two years now and with gentle coaxing and sympathetic understanding, he has grown to trust us and for the most part, his bad behaviors have abated. 
But he has one behavior that has lingered. When he is frustrated, usually by loud noises, such as gunshots or power tools, he rips out grass and chews up sticks, sometimes still attached to their bushes. 
Our lawn and plantings have suffered, but over time we have shown him a 'safe zone' where he can rip to his heart's content, and  we have also trained him to 'get his ball' when he is frustrated. 

He loves to fetch the ball! 

And now I am using some of his 'talents' to help me in the garden!
If I have a stubborn weed or clump of grass that I can't budge, I ask Champ to do it! 

It is a 'win-win' situation. 

He is also an excellent watch dog and protector for me when my Ramblin' Man is off traveling for work. 

So with Champ's help, I planted two pots of Lenten Rose. 

I also planted some Black Mondo Grass, Forget Me Nots that I dug from the lawn,  and some unidentified ground cover I received from a friend.  

I already had several clumps of daffodils that were planted many years ago,
 and native Holly, Thimble Berry and Indian Plum growing alongside. 

Two large Alder trees will shade this area soon,
 but the late afternoon sunshine sends lovely light through the trees. 

It will be a peaceful place to rest after a busy day in the garden. 

I will continue to add to it over time. 

This is the view. 

I planted wildflower seeds in the rock garden and also in front of the Mr.'s tool shed. 

I also planted some Rock Cress and Creeping Phlox in the rock garden. 

Soon the Forget me Not and Wild Geranium (Herb Robert) will be blooming alongside. 

And the yellow blossoms of Creeping Buttercup, which is invasive and which I can't completely eradicate from my gardens. At least it is pretty! 

And now I hear that the North East is preparing for another snow storm! 

I grew up in New England and I am familiar with those long winters. 

Every area has their challenges for the gardener! 

Here the challenges are relentless gray skies and rain. 

This has been the 3rd wettest March on record here in WA State. 

With more rain forecast for the rest of the week, we may break the record. 

I'm sure this contributed to the recent disaster. 

Everything is covered in moss! This little mossy tree trunk has been taken over by the fairies. 

Can you see the doorway? 

The rare sunshine casts a shadow of my hand holding the camera. 

And turns newly emerging leaves into tiny, dancing lights. 

Nature's seasons remind us of the delicate balance we all dance to as we live our lives. 

We never know when the winds of change might blow our way. 

Nothing lasts forever, life is always moving, changing, growing, and transforming. 

Each moment never the same as the last. 

As we live out these precious moments, 
we must remember that we decide what is written on the eternal slate of who we are.

To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.
-Mary Roberts Rinehart-

Happiness is to be found along the way, 
not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it is too late. 
-Robert R. Updegraff-

Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it. 
-Anne Lenclos-


  1. Wonderful to know that a fine breed of dog, such as Champ, found a loving home with you.

  2. Hello Karen! I was thinking of you when I heard of the landslide and wondered how close the slide is to your home. My heart is so sad to read how many people are still missing in the slide.

    I think the story of your puppy, his happy ending, is so sweet. I think he was meant to be your dog. I have looked at dogs on rescue sites. I am not sure I am ready for a puppy but I'd be up for a fully trained and well behaved dog for walks and and the guarding would be nice too. Your garden is looking so beautiful. It is so cute Champ can help out in the garden.

  3. The landslide was on our news the other night, I didn't realise you were close .
    I love that you rescued you dog, he sounds like a fine fellow and good protection when you are alone they are protective and good company, I often miss my dog Peaches, she was a German Shepard and very protective too.

  4. Oh I thought of you when I saw the disaster my heart goes out to the families I cannot imagine such a thing and how you could get through that.
    Champ is a lucky dog and I think so are you. I had to Border Collies and they were the smartest dogs I have ever owned.
    Your garden is beautiful and it will be a wonderful place to sit. Hug B

  5. Dear Karen,
    The reflection of your kind and loving heart in your posts is something I cherish.

  6. Oh Karen, then let my heart talk to God about those people who are affected with this disaster. And what a cute story of Champ and you gardening. He's smart dog, and it must be fun when they're around you.
    Stay safe!

  7. Ohhh Beatrice usted estaba cerca de la zona de derrumbe ¡, que terrible por todos esos familiares que tienen algún ser querido desaparecido y que bueno que ese perro encontró un alma caritativa como usted

  8. I am so saddened to hear about the mudslide and actually had not heard about it until today due to being sick. Breaks my heart and my prayers go out to all of those families. No words. How lucky Champ is to have been adopted by a GOOD family. I am a highly sensitive person so whenever I hear of animals or children who have been mistreated I just ache on the inside and would do anything to save them. No precious being should be put through this type of abuse. And Karen...your shade garden around your bench looks so beautiful! Oh my! It is stunning!!! There is good and we are lucky to know that in the simple things that is where joy is found! A wonderful week to you friend! Nicole xoxo

  9. love that champ helps you with the tough jobs. so glad he found your loving home.

    my heart goes out to all affected by the mudslide. truly tragic...

  10. I saw on the news today that the landslide actually showed up on the seismograph, and they played the sound it made. Almost like an earthquake. That's so sad. Landslides were around this winter for sure in the NW. Are the lenten rose also called hellebores? I have a dark purple one and did have off white one but I think it died. Need to see if I can get it going again. Fun dog. and glad he's doing ok. and helps keep you safe! Hugs!

  11. I saw this sad news on the TV... my heart goes out to the people affected by this landslide.....I am so glad Champ found you in his sad life he looks a very happy dog a wonderful partnership the both of you have as you look out for each other... your photos are so beautiful of your wonderful garden...Love the fairy tree....Hugs May x x x

  12. Karen, dziękuję za wizytę u mnie:)
    Biedny psiak... Jest słodki, a Ty masz bardzo dobre i wrażliwe serce:))
    Piękne zdjęcie z ławeczką parkową.. takie nostalgiczne...
    Ściskam mocno!! :)

  13. Hi Karen, thoughts and prayers to the family of the victims of this tragedy. Very sad! And what a sad story about your adopted border Collle too. It was a blessing that you found him. He looks very happy now. You are surrounded with beauty and surprises. What an astounding place you are living in.
    Take care and I hope the rain will ease for a while.


  14. I read about this landslide on the news. So so scary and tragic :(

  15. i find it so tough to know what to think when there are so many difficult things going on within the world. i feel pulled in so many directions. helpful-less.

    what a cute doggie. he looks super strong. i will look around a bit ... have a good week. ( :

  16. My heart goes out to all of those families affected by the tragedy, and this seems so pointless.

    I love your garden bench, Karen - very inviting and the view is fabulous. I hope to create this wooded look over time on our property. The previous owners mowed the entire 3 1/2 acres! We are giving a large part of it back to Mother Nature in hopes of encouraging the growth of more trees. I planted a pecan last week and this week I'm planting a red bud. <3

  17. I was thinking about you and so happy to hear you are safe. I wasn't exactly sure where you're located in relation to this horrible tragedy. Another beautiful post...thank you.

  18. I am so glad you are ok. I was thinking of you when I saw this on the news. Such a terrible tragedy.

    It was lovely reading about Champ too. He is such a lucky chap finding such a loving family after such a terrible start.

    Take care my friend xx

  19. I didn't realize how near you are to the tragedy, Karen. What a loving post you wrote and I loved seeing your newly planted bench garden and your beloved Champ. Blessings to you!

  20. I haven't heard about the slide- we have been at the lake and not watching news..how tragic! Champ sure did luck out when you adopted him. Your garden looks terrific!

  21. Dearest Karen,
    Very tragic for those that are affected by this mudslide. We have seen many deadly ones in the mountains of South India and also in Central Java where we lived and worked.
    Heavy rainfal makes the mountains let go of their soil mass and there it goes.
    Your garden is so lovely, you have the richest soil, we can only dream of anything like that!
    Champ is so sweet and it makes me cringe to think what they've done to him by abusing him in such a way. For sure he will be forever grateful to Joy and to his forever human parents.
    Enjoy your spring coming along in your lovely garden!

  22. Dear Karen,
    you do have a very charming helpng hand!!! I'm an absolutely dog person you should know.
    All the best to you (and yes even we in europe have heard about the desaster - oh my god!

  23. Dear Karen,
    how nice that you are doing well. Even here in Germany was
    reports of the accident. As you can see again how strong the
    Nature. I do the accidents of human suffering and so many have their
    Lost home. Very sad. But you show beautiful pictures of the
    Nature, here it shows itself from its best side.
    Kind regards

  24. Nature is ever changing - and even more so when the weather gets involved -- Oh, my goodness what a awful awful mess -- we read it on line and saw photos too..I've been in a flood and it changes you -- but this way beyond what I have ever experienced..My heart feels for all those who have lost so much...
    Lovely uplifting photos you have shared...and story about Champ...

  25. I am saddened and at a loss for words to describe the horror this must be for the families of those lost. I have prayed and wondered why such disasters like this happen. God bless you living so close to all of this sadness. I appreciate your post. Hugs

  26. Lovely sentiments about love and caring....how tragic for Joy, dying in an avalanche, and how awful for those suffering in the recent avalanche tragedy! And, poor little Champ, but thank goodness Joy gave him a loving home with patience to help him through his issues. I'm glad he can help you in the garden, though. :-) LOVE that Lenten Rose! Wow!

    So, you grew up in New England. I actually spent about eight years of my childhood in Maryland, not too far south of where you were playing with your own little friends. :-) Another thing we have in common. I remember the SNOW! Cold hands because of forgotten mittens when walking home from school. :-)


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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