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Monday, 16 January 2018
Something from yesterday: While Allan was up at the top of the crab pot tree removing lights and garlands, Premera Blue Cross actually called him. They are finally taking my case seriously. Later, when not perched on stacked crab pots, he had a long talk with them and they promised I will have my insurance card in five to seven days. Yes, the card that should have arrived by the end of December might be here by the 22nd of January. If I had been on the phone, I would have told the person that their $250 emergency room co pay (which was $100 three years ago) is a price that could kill people by making them put off a hospital visit till the regular clinic is open.

Today, I woke after a mere six hours of sleep to a beautiful, spring like day.

I could not resist the garden.

Bright Acanthus ‘Hollard’s Gold’ greeted me (lower left).

Surely I could do a few tasks in the garden? I set myself a goal of doing four things.

One and two: cut down a variegated miscanthus and a tall yellow yarrow and chopped the debris small into the compost bins.

Before:


After:


Now I will have a better view when the crocuses emerge.

Three: Cut down another miscanthus in  the west bed.

Before:


After:


I added another thing (four) and transplanted a small clerodendrum tree.  You can read a charming article and see good photos of the “peanut butter tree” here. Mine had  been along the west edge and is now in the big west bed. Looking from my south window, I love the shiny green leaves along the west edge and have realized I want glossy green evergreen leaves in a continuous line, not broken by a deciduous tree. I now have some kind of osmanthus, a eucryphia, an empty space, and some Escallonia ‘Pink Princess’ mixed with some pernettya. I’d like an ultra cool shiny rather fast growing seven to nine foot foot tall evergreen shrub in the empty space, and soon. If I get lazy (because pickings of the unusual are slim around here), I’ll just get a white escallonia (Escallonia iveyi).

Osmanthus (?), empty space, escallonias and pernettya:


Oh, a Rhodendron loderi would be nice, shiny, and fragrant. But not available around here. And I’d like a shrub clothed in green all the way to the base.

Skooter was playing captain on the good ship Ann Lovejoy.

I turned to the fifth thing, cutting back three clumps of epimedium so that the yellow flowers will show later on. Clump one: Not perfect but good enough.


Better than it was a few days ago:

Near the last patch of epimedium, a hamamelis was aglow.

Three narcissi were blooming … here’s one:

and one of the first clumps of crocus:

I was listening to my body with the intention of stopping at the first sign of tiredness.  I still had the energy to walk to the edge of the bogsy woods to look for special hellebores. I can only find magenta, pink, and white singles and doubles. None of the fancy ones I’ve bought are blooming yet.


I found new pulmonaria leaves:


And a small disaster where my new Metrapanax delavayi  (extra special from Xera Plants via Pam Fleming) had blown over.


I was running low on steam so called Allan on the phone. He came to the rescue with some rope with which we tied the little tree to the big stump of Danger Tree.

While I waited, I sat by the fire circle and admired my contorted filbert.


That was all I could manage. It did not cause any sort of relapse, as far as I can tell as I write this the next day. I came indoors with lungs full of fresh air and wrote yesterday’s blog post and finished reading The White Cascade.

When Steve came to pick up his soup container, I gave him two of the narcissi (the third was snail-chomped), a branch of winter honeysuckle, and rooted starts of epimedium and Jasminum nudiforum.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

I am still blogging from my comfy chair rather than from my computer desk. We are in for a couple of weeks of wild and wet weather which I hope will be conducive to the retrospective blog posts that I want to do. For those, I need to sit and my desk. I’m of the opinion that my five year old MacBook will last longer if I don’t make it teeter and shift around on my lap.

I woke after only six hours of sleep to the sound of drilling, as Allan removed the front door.

Skooter did not want me to get up.


While Skooter weighed me down, Chef Allan was pleased to take delivery (hours earlier than scheduled) of a gleaming white new refrigerator, and the old one, which tended to turn on much too often and to ice up every other month, was carted away.

No wheels here. There is a wide strap under the 205 lb. fridge cinched onto their shoulder harnesses. Very clever. 

Within two hours of the refrigerator installation, our washing machine (probably circa 1979) broke down. One of the resolutions I made in my mid-20s was to never again go to a laundrette, so a new machine is on order to be delivered next Wednesday. Allan spent part of his afternoon bailing out the old one. How well I remember the not so long ago days when this would have been a terrible financial crisis. I am thankful that it is just a setback.

I noticed something interesting. From the same trunk, the Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ outside the south window is leafless…

….and is still fully leafed out the west window.

Suddenly, after mildly-manneredly putting up with it for seven years, I was consumed with desire to see out of my “blown” south window. I started to explore possibilities of a rebate program for window replacement, from the local electric company. I want to see the whole view!  I also want to be able to take photos out of a clear unscreened window.

The weather is perfect for resting…..
…and promises to be so for some time. The winds were strong. I can see Cape D from my window.


A friend took this photo at the port in the afternoon:

High tide at the Ilwaco marina, photo by Jackie Sheldon

The next two weeks should be perfect for resting, reading, blog writing, and then…the prospect of returning to work will begin to loom. Meanwhile…

I may take a few days off blogging to read my latest batch of books, starting with this one:


…and moving on to these:

From my iPad and my comfy chair.

Some guest photos of early flowers from Pam Fleming, Seaside, Oregon gardener:




I haven’t been out in my garden for days and appreciated this glimpse of hers.

In other news from the outsid, the BBC recently did a story here about our deportation crisis. In it, not only will you learn more about recent events, you’ll also see beautiful shots of Ilwaco and the Long Beach Peninsula and two views of our boatyard garden.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

I read:


The Florida Keys is the setting, here described in 1912.  I am glad Lou Gehrig got to enjoy time there before ALS struck him down.

The hurricane saga begins in the Great Depression with the story of the Bonus Army, a veterans movement that originated in Oregon and is well worth reading more about right here.


They were eventually met with shocking force.


Public opinion was with the soldiers in a sentimental way.


And yet today, this story resonated with me when I think of the startlingly low pay of the newly enlisted and the many veterans destitute in the modern day.

In 1935, many of them were shipped down to build a highway on the Florida keys…just as efforts had begun to make Key West a tourist destination.


And so began the gripping story of the hurricane that kept me engrossed all Saturday and into Sunday.


Steve and John of The Bayside Garden had brought us a large container of African peanut soup. It fed us deliciously for two nights.

Allan’s photo

Sunday, 14 January 2018

I found today’s weather terribly frustrating simply because it was glorious, sunny and 65 degrees, and I slept so late because of the medicine I’m taking for shingles, and then did not set a foot outdoors to avoid getting depressed by all the projects I long to do. I am supposed to rest. But for how long?

I so much wanted to attend this event and simply could not:


With much help,from Allan (who did just about all of it), we had accomplished one thing: moving my bed, a complicated contraption made from milk crates, boards, and drawers from someone’s old water bed,  so that I can see out the south window instead of having my head in a corner. This was inspired by getting a proper new bed mattress from The Boreas Inn.

While the candlelight march progressed across the river, I lay on fluffy pillows and cloud like mattress and looked at this view for over an hour without much of a thought in my head. I see out through the screen much better than the camera does.


I will be able to see the lights from the port at night during winter when the leaves are fallen. Even in summer, the view will include Salt Hotel and the Cape Disappointment hill over the Coast Guard station.  And I can see the southwest view of sunsets.


I hope my energy will return for gardening. I don’t want to be lying in that bed watching nature take the garden back. I’d have to learn to be very philosophical.

The cats like it, too.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Allan had gotten a message from Jenna asking for help un-decorating the Crab Pot Christmas tree.  Her general plea for help roused no one but Allan, so the two of them did it, with Allan doing the climbing.


The view from on high:


A passerby did help make a pile of floats.


Mission accomplished.


Jenna decided to leave some floats on the fence.


Meanwhile, I slept through the project.

Having emerged from reading about the great hurricane, I turned to the autobiography of Minnie Rose Lovgreen, whose Recipe for Raising Chickens is a favourite book of mine. The day was windy, with some rain, so I did not feel bad to be reading instead of gardening.

Minnie narrowly avoided a disaster story of her own. She had tickets for the Titanic but when it was late to depart, she chose instead a ship that was sailing earlier. 
Oh, just look! The copy that I got from interlibrary loan has actually been touched by the hand of Minnie Rose herself.


How very much she reminds me of my grandma.


The story was recorded while Minnie was dying of cancer. Her calm attitude about death moved me. 
I am so glad that she got to see the popularity of her little chicken book, which by 2010, despite being out of print for 20 years until a new printing in 2009, had sold 24,000 copies. If you have a friend or neighbor with chickens, it makes a perfect gift. In fact, I gave it to Dave and Melissa for Christmas.

Some pieces of Minnie’s story that especially spoke to me:

My grandmother made hooked rugs as a hobby.  I still have many of them along with ones I made in my 20s and early 30s. I think Minnie’s pegged rugs, made in her teenage years in England, were by the same method.
Some of my grandma’s rugs:


A rug portraying her beloved little red house (537 N 66th in Seattle):
The rug I made in 1990 of that house when I owned it:
My grandma, Gladys Corinne Walker, had fond memories of wood stoves of her youth.  (You can read her story in this other blog of mine.)


My grandma told me the story of being a house cleaner and being told “You are the only one who ever gave me square corners”.  When I had a cleaning business, I called it Square Corners Housecleaning.  Minnie learned about corners from a “very particular client”,  and about backing out of a freshly cleaned room.

Here’s an old story that Minnie told.


Keep on churning.

Later, on Bainbridge Island, she had a life with flowers, beach, and a good husband.


I wept a bucket over the poem at the end of the book. It especially got to me because my grandma had a stroke that she at first thought was sunstroke from working in the garden.


It’s almost too much to bear. Sunday night, I was reading some letters of Ian Whitcomb online and learned he had had a stroke in 2012. Then tears rolled down. I’m in an especially tetchy mental state. Yet both Ian and Minnie bring me more joy than sorrow.

In the late afternoon, I started another emotionally gripping disaster book, to put life in perspective.


In the evening, we watched a documentary which I recommend to all who live along the Columbia. This fellow swam the river from its beginning to the sea. 
I am almost feeling like I could sit at my computer to create some blog posts that were part of my staycation plan.  Soon, I hope.

Friday, 12 January 2018 

From my chair, written on my iPad, and inspired by Ian Whitcomb (see my previous post) to blather on a bit more than usual. 

I made it out to water in my greenhouse, the furthest I have gotten into the garden since picking bouquets for Allan’s party on January 2nd.  

The rain gauges showed the rainfall that has made staying indoors for the past week not too frustrating. 

Skooter accompanied me. 

Bulb foliage is emerging in the new window boxes. 

I hope I will be well enough to cut back the epimediums soon. Positive thinking: I will be. 

The fern that Todd gave Allan for his birthday:

I think back to that glorious January 2nd birthday and how wonderful it was to surprise Allan with a bigger party than he had expected. I remember how healthy and energetic I felt (little knowing I would be felled by shingles less than two days later) and how well chuffed I was to have managed, with the help of friends, to organize such a splendid shindig.

 I thought about how once a friend had sternly told me that no one should have a potluck party; it simply was not the thing to do, and no party should be held unless one could pull off a dinner worthy of Martha Stewart. She was not joking. I secretly thought, “Okay then, you won’t be invited to my 60th birthday.”  That conversation was the moment when I knew the friendship was doomed by a class difference too wide to cross. She was too rich for my blood. Something about the conversation disheartened me enough that I  later solved the 60th year party problem by decamping to the Sylvia Beach Hotel five days. 

Not only did I need to surprise Allan with potluck items for his big 65th (or he would have realized how big the party was going to be), but… working class people have potlucks and that is just the way it is. 

After Allan’s party, I kept thinking of people I wish I could have invited. My criteria was to invite people who have invited  us into their homes. I figured that then the invitation would be a pleasure and not a burden.  But I am sure I forgot some. I also forgot to give a shout out to J9’s party helper business, Have Tux, Will Travel.  As a guest, she slipped into party help mode, including washing up, and made everything easier. I also forgot to make a little fuss of celebration at the party that it was the 12th anniversary to the day of Allan moving here. 

My next big party plan is for July 2009, which will mark the 25th anniversary of when I moved to the town of Ilwaco.  That can be a garden party. 

Today, once I returned from my very brief foray outside, I settled in with an interlibrary loan. 

Here’s a clear shot of the cover. 


I had discovered this garden while on a walk home from a Capitol Hill housecleaning job to my home in Greenwood in the late 1980s.  I used to walk miles between work and home. Sometimes a two hour walk would be faster than taking three buses and would be a way to discover wonderful places. I nosed around the hillside garden, not sure if I were really allowed to be there, and visited it several times, without ever meeting the owners, before I left Seattle in December 1992. Recently, I saw that the garden was to be featured on a (very expensive) Pacific Horticulture garden tour weekend. Recognizing it by one photo, I learned its actual name and found its website, at streissguthgardens.com. (The website seems to be down as I write this so I can’t link to it yet.) 

You can read more about it here.  And here.

The beginning of the gardens is the perfect story of gardening neighbors:


I have sort of an obsession with gardening neighbors, especially after finding a chapter on that topic in the book Gardening from the Heart: Why Gardeners Garden. 


I have longed for the glory of a gardening neighbor and never quite got there. Once I thought I had, with someone nearby but not quite next door. I was wrong, and it was deeply disappointing. I have felt envious when touring garden neighbors’ adjoining paradises on garden tours in Portland and Aberdeen.

Back to the Streissguth gardens.  I enjoyed reading about gardening on a hillside of blue clay, as parts of my previous Ilwaco garden was like that.  I had had no idea of the battle to save the hillside from development.  The solution of donating their garden to the city was genius and so admirable. 


I appreciate their use of human powered tools. 

One of the principles of the Streissguth Gardens that strongly speaks to me : “a good garden and its house should be a gift to its neighbors.”

Those of you who live in or visit Seattle, do visit this garden and send me some photos, if you would be so kind. 

The last time I visited the garden, still not knowing its name, was with a friend in July of 2003. Not even sure if I could find it again, we drove Capitol Hill streets until we came upon it from above. 

Here are my photos from that afternoon. 

Looking down the hill to the garages at the bottom of the garden: That may have been one of the garden owners. We didn’t chat as she seemed very busy in the vegetable garden (and I was shy).


Looking to the north side into the private part of the garden, well described in the book. 




Down by the old garages at the base of the hill:


The damp areas by the pond that catches water run off:

The beauty of a hillside garden:

The friend I was with, lost now in the mists of time, was not a gardener and could not understand my rapture over the garden. I’m glad I took photos anyway (before digital camera) and wish I had taken more.

Back in 2018, I finished the day of a convalescent with a suspense novel. Quite good, and set in the wild forests of Oregon. 


While I’ve been immersed in books, our friends Scott and Tony visited Oysteville,  and Tony took this photo of THE Oysteville garden. 

Photo by Tony Hofer

I spent three days reading the 500 page, small print Letters from Lotusland, the journals of self deprecating Ian Whitcomb.

If you read his memoirs, you will find that he does seem to enjoy occasionally making old fashioned xenophobic comments. Not anything overtly mean like our unfortunate president, but perhaps overly nostalgic for England as it was. Despite this, I cannot help but dote on and adore him.  What’s more, he progressed in thought quite a bit since his first memoir, Resident Alien.  

I loved being immersed into his world of 1920s music and dances, reminiscences about his brief pop star career, and constant droll self deprecation.

Favourite parts follow.

I admire that he is loyal in leaving a restaurant when his favourite server was gone, although I think maybe he would have  stayed on if they’d continued to get good service from someone else.


Loyalty is important!

This passage about house hunting in 2006 reminded me of how strange it was, back in my housecleaning days, to enter a home with no books. (This was well before Kindles.)


I spent much of the book fretting about whether Ian and Regina would be able to return to the home they had moved out of because of terrible neighbors. You’ll have to read to find out!

I was thrilled to vicariously go to dinner not once, but twice, at the home of Virginia Ironside, one of my favourite authors. (She wrote the excellent pet loss book, Goodbye, Dear Friend.)



Another dinner with Virginia:

I have read the book mentioned above and recently acquired another growing old memoir by Ms Ironsides called No!  I Don’t Need Reading Glasses!

Ian and Regina adore their animals. In Resident Alien, Ian had Beefy the dog. In the years of this memoir, they have Simon the cat and Rollo the dog. Simon the cat begins to fail, and I was reminded of the last days of my Smoky. (Smoky was a friend to all, not cranky.)


.
I’m happy to tell you that Simon rallied with ongoing medical treatment.

There is much good and pleasantly educational writing about music.

Here is a description of a floor I would like to see or have, that reminded me of the building skills of local craftsman Bill Clearman, who has built at least one house with the traditional Japanese methods:

While in Japan on a musical tour, he went to a restaurant where “shoes had to be removed; the narrow floors of the corridors were of glass and flowing beneath this glass was a stream full of flashing fishes, gurgling with delight.  There were many rooms in peaceful brown tones, of exquisite proportions, rigid angles, solid wood–no nails used in the making of this place.”

On one of his annual trips back to England:


I want very much to find this book and send it to Ian:


A memory of WWII rationing (the time in history that fascinates me):


I kept thinking Ian reminded me of Simon Gray (every one of whose memoirs I have read) and I was not the only one:

Steinbeck! (my other latest craze):


As we old folks do, Ian shares thoughts about death.

I’ve been avoiding Mr. Death all my life, but even in my high bright Looming Tower he’ll eventually find me and no amount of protestation from Ukie will stop him.”

“Where do individuals-all of us- go after the body is reduced to dust? Do they float about somewhere, barging into each other and having exchanges? …. I can’t bear to think that we return to a core, a might Oneness Thing.  Or worse–that we become a tree or a frog or an ant.”

I got both of Mr Whitcomb’s memoirs from interlibrary loan. As usual, I can’t remember which other book I’ve read that led me to Resident Alien. I now intend to read his books about music.  And surely it is time for another book of his journals. You can read the most recent one here.  I can’t find journal entries from previous months, though, anywhere.

One effect of reading Whitcomb is that when we this weekend started watching the British show Peaky Blinders, set in the early 1920s, I was outraged that they used rock music instead of period music for the sound track. I had to hit the pause button and rant and invoke the good taste and musical knowledge of Mr Whitcomb. (Poor Allan.)

I felt so sad and bereft sending Letters from Lotusland back to the library that I must acquire my own copy. I was shocked to see few reviews of his memoirs on Goodreads. They deserve more attention. So if you like that sort of thing, have at it.

Written on my iPad from my chair. If you are reading this in email, you might want to click through to the blog for a better corrected version. 

After a most lovely start to the year with Allan’s birthday party of January second, on Wednesday the third, I thought I had woken up with a mild case of hives.  We went to Astoria to the social security office to try to sort out the troubles with Allan’s Medicare. They were closed.  I burst into tears of frustration because the insurance problems for both of us had me feeling deeply afraid. I recovered my composure (surely to the relief of poor Allan) and felt just fine shopping, a task that usually enervates me unless it is for plants. 

On Thursday the fourth, I woke with a fever and went into a panic that I’d been contagious with flu during Allan’s party. I imagined everyone getting it and hating me. I could not go to the social security office with Allan and stayed in bed rather than having our planned pleasant afternoon outing in Astoria. As it turned out, while I was sleeping the day away, Allan went back and forth to the social security office twice. Their computer failed and he still did not have Medicare. 

By the time he returned, I felt I needed to get medical help. Somehow I figured out I probably had shingles. The clinic could not fit me in till Monday, and the emergency room costs $250.  Allan spent over an hour on the phone telling the insurance company that I have paid, even though they seemed to have forgotten who I am. They finally said to just have the clinic call them to be assured that I am indeed insured. By then, the clinic was closed. 

On Friday the fifth, we walked into the clinic and threw ourselves on their mercy. They were unable to ascertain my insurance on their computer but did fit me in to see a nurse, which would cost $60 co pay rather than $250 co pay across  the parking lot at the hospital. And a good thing, too, as she prescribed the seven day heavy dose of anti virtual medicine that you must start taking 72 hours after shingles begins. A lab test would confirm shingles or not, but the drug could not wait. Our insurance broker made a call and was told my insurance had expired Dec 31 and that I had not paid. We emailed a screen shot of the canceled check. 

Allan’s photo of the storm flags at the port shows that we were not missing out on good weather. 

In the evening, Allan suddenly fell very ill with a gastrointestinal ailment over which I will draw a veil except to say that I had to rise to the occasion and help before collapsing into a fevered bed. I fretted that it was party food poisoning and that other attendees would get it and hate us.  This proved not to be the case. I feel sure that this had something to do with a fast food lunch during his second visit to the social security office, making it all of a piece with our insurance woes. 

I believe the stress of being seemingly uninsured brought on my shingles.  It is so stressful because I have been self employed for over forty years, much of that time buying medical insurance with huge deductibles, insurance that during my fifties cost 1/3 of my income, always with the worry that illness could prevent working, lack of working could prevent paying the insurance, and medical bills could cost the loss of my home and garden. This is the reality for many people in the United States. It is quite possibly the main reason I am a hypochondriac. Having been a responsible health insurance buyer for decades, to have us both be facing an apparent though improbable lack of insurance at once (due to bureaucratic failures on the side of the providers) was appalling to me. 

On Saturday the sixth, I saw this when I awoke. 

 

I was able to sit in my chair and read.  Allan was still weak and in bed. Our dear friend Jenna brought us groceries fit for the sick: bananas, chicken soup, white soft bread, applesauce. I joined a shingles forum and immediately learned of the worst cases: recurring outbreaks for years, losing an eye, ruined lives.  Have I mentioned I am a hypochondriac? A friend advised me to run from the forum and I pretty much did and turned to finishing East of Eden, which I had been reading in small amounts for the previous two days. 


A few favourite parts:

How very much I identify with this…


And this about not judging someone by their money:


And a story ahead of its time in insight about a girl who wanted to be a boy:



On Sunday the seventh, three days into the heavy medicine and five days into shingles, I had an icepick headache the likes of which, despite years of migraines, I had never experienced.  Finally in the afternoon I was able to rise from bed, beat the pain back with ice held onto the top of my head with a scarf, and read. By then, Allan was well enough to help me with soup and ice packs. (He had spent part of the day on the phone with my insurance company, who seemed to be admitting that I had indeed paid.)



Just a few favourite  parts:



Upon people reading her hacked emails:


On a life of service:



On idealism vs cynicism (a speech she gave as First Lady):


And some of her favourite quotations, used as chapter dividers:






After reading her memoir, I find her to be kind, compassionate, self-deprecating, and someone who would be a wonderful friend (and would have been a competent, caring, and intelligent president). 

The next day, Monday, was one of misery, two different kinds of shockingly terrible headaches, and being unable to rise from a bed of a 101 degree fever. I received a call that my lab test was positive for shingles. 

Desperate to read something other than news and Facebook on my phone, I managed in the evening a cartoon book, and even that was hard to hold up because  I was so weak. I photographed the two most apropos cartoons the following day when I was again able to rise from bed to chair. 




(Those who have been to our house know that my walls are like this.)

The next day, the ninth, I tried to read Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a book referred to in my various readings about the Great Depression. 


I liked and identified with the description of Agee in the foreword:


But I simply could not get through 400 pages of this:


I just can’t. 

I turned to lighter reading, simply happy to be in my chair rather than bed, with Allan up and about and feeling better.  Both Jenna and J9 had brought us groceries twice. It seemed that soon Allan would be able to hunt and gather for us. I was grateful for rainy weather so that I did not feel I was missing out on winter gardening joys. 

If only I could have refrained from asking Dr Google about the terrifying side affects of my heavy 5x daily doses of anti viral medicine, each time finding more horror stories about lives destroyed by shingles. (I long for the new vaccine, which I can take when this is over. The old vaccine was only 51 percent effective. The new one is 90 percent and may help people who’ve already had this malady once.)  Between scaring myself half to death while seeking simple information from Dr Google, I took solace for the next three days in 500 small print pages of the world of a droll Englishman.

 I felt that the accompanying heavy dose of the medicine for nerve pain (gabapentin) was not improving my reading and writing skills. 


He’s sometimes startlingly xenophobic and yet I cannot help but love him. More on this book in my next post. 

Even the least scary shingles info says it is best that I rest for at least three more weeks. It takes a long time to get over. Fortunately, I have a large stack of books and if the weather stays bad, I’ll be doing what I otherwise would have been doing on staycation.  I hope fairly soon to find the energy to sit in a desk chair and do the retrospective blog posts that I had planned for this month. 

During these days, when he was feeling better, Allan took photos of cats. Don’t try the string play at home. It can be dangerous for cats to swallow string. 



As I write this, it is January 13th and I still do not have an insurance card, nor has our account online changed to show me as currently insured.  

Monday, 1 January 2018

Along with housecleaning, I made a practice spinach phyllo pie in advance of Allan’s birthday. Cooking is stressful for me. When I live alone, I mostly eat salads or microwave quesadillas or microwaved frozen dinners. In my memory, I made this pie with raw spinach and butter and ricotta and some chopped onion and a bit of broccoli layered in phyllo. But all the online recipes call for cooking and egg beating and and and. So I had to see if my method works like I remember. I forgot to put any salt in it. Gordon Ramsay would be sure to point that out. (I do like watching cooking shows, specifically Chopped and anything Ramsay.)

The pie, while tasty, was sort of messy looking.

The cats had a more relaxing day.

Our friend Mike Starrhill went for a walk on the McClane Creek nature trail near Olympia and got some photos of “frost flowers”. Pretty sure it is the hair ice that Mr Tootlepedal looks for in Scotland.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

I prepared for Allan’s party in secretive ways. He still thought it was going to be a dinner party of six. I hid dishes of candy and nuts and extra cake plates in cupboards and put the cat toys away.

I let Calvin play with his Katnip Kitty Karrot first.

Skooter accompanied me while I picked some winter bouquets (greenery, Lonicera fragrantissima, Jasminum nudiflorum, red and gold twig dogwood, viburnum berries).

Skooter helped make the bouquets.

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Maddy of Pink Poppy Bakery delivered a beautiful chocolate orange cardamom fern decorated cake.

Maddy and Quincy

Just at dusk I put lawn chairs (for extra indoor seating) outside the back door. I popped two respectable looking phyllo spinach pies into the oven.

Allan was successfully surprised when unexpected party goers began to arrive at five, at which time I pulled out the extra snacks and plates and brought in the chairs.

Jenna (Queen La De Da) took some photos:

Todd (Willapa Gardening) and Ed (Strange Landscaping)

Steve of the Bayside Garden and Dave of Sea Star Gardening with Sarah (author and topiary artist)

John and Steve of the Bayside Garden

Susie (Boreas Inn) and Melissa (Sea Star Gardening) and Judy

Allan opening a gift from Heather of NIVA green. Judy made the fern birthday corsage.

The Pink Poppy cake

Allan took a picture:

DSC08165.JPG

L-R: Susie Goldsmith, Jeannine Grey (J9), Jenna and Bill Vernon (Boreas Inn).

I took a few:

Artist Don Nisbett, Larry, Joe Chasse (Dangerous Toys), Heather (NIVA green)

Sarah and Judy

Ed and Devery

Friends helped provide enough food for the surprise by bringing appetizers.

A crowded house, with J9 in the middle

Allan will get his wish.

Jenna pops the champagne cork.

A couple of presents were left over after guests departed: some delectable chocolates from Steve and John and this fern from Todd.

Todd’s heron card had a hitch hiker

Frosty had fun with the gift bag.

I was well chuffed at managing to throw Allan a good 65th. We don’t usually make such a fuss, but this was a big birthday. We missed Our Kathleen, MaryBeth, and Scott and Tony, all of whom were out of town.

On the calendar, where I had just written “Dave and Mel dinner 5 PM”, Jenna changed it to the real deal.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

A mild winter day allowed some gardening.

The grey rain gauge showed the impressive storm of the past two days.

I accomplished the weeding of the driveway beds.

On the west wall, Clematis ‘Freckles’ continues to bloom.

Some grape hyacinth on the north wall are the first bulbs to bloom.

I got a half wheelbarrow load of good composted mulch out of bin three.


And there’s more good compost ready for sifting.

Skooter enjoyed the sunshine for awhile.

Late afternoon winter sun:

I’ve made good progress on winter weeding although there is more to do. A list of indoor staycation projects has also appeared.

I want to make blog posts of a 1975 trip to the U.K. (having found my old letters from that trip.) And  I wish to enter thirty years worth of reading into Goodreads. And to go through and discard many papers. And to find and renew our passports in case we have to make a quick getaway.

I finished the story of the 1900 Galveston hurricane.

Journalist friends will be interested to know that the first reporter to reach Galveston was Winifred Black, byline Annie Laurie, who disguised herself as a member of an all-male work crew to gain access.

When you live just blocks from the ocean, storm stories are extra compelling. I had first read about this devastating storm in a ghost story/mystery by Susan Wittig Albert:

I think I pulled an upper back muscle turning compost today. It hurt (right side shoulder blade area) in the evening (and on and off through the next day). I should have stretched first after several days of not gardening.

                   Sunday, 31 December 2017

Allan took some photos coming back from a walk to the local store.

In the post office window:

At home, we had accomplished an end of year housecleaning and even gotten a few small pictures hung that had been languishing in a pile, including this one from the estate of Helen Dunn, a dear friend who once lived in Seaview.

Skooter helped with the laundry.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Here, for you, is a darling card that was once sent to me by my dear friend, Montana Mary.
We have a couple of busy days ahead so there will be a blog hiatus for a short time. If all goes according to plan, will return with news of Allan’s birthday (it’s tomorrow), and a necessary trip to scenic Astoria (to get Medicare sorted), and with the traditional yearly list of books read, and with my retrospective photos of Smoky cat, and possibly a flashback to a 1975 trip to the U.K. (based on old letters).

Thanks to everyone who reads this and thanks for all the interesting comments.