Archive for Jan, 2010

After a late summer and fall of immense change, we took comfort in the rituals of holidays on the Peninsula.  (Speaking of rituals, it took me until late autumn to realize to my dismay that I had completely forgotten to go on September’s Cannon Beach Cottage Tour.  Argh, what a shame that was.)

But in early December up went the crab pot tree….

world’s largest crab pot tree in Ilwaco

and on a starry night, came the lighting ceremony and crab-centric Christmas carols.

by the boatyard at night

lighting of the crab pot tree

lighted boats at the port

the crab pot tree

At the port on tree-lighting night, shops stayed open and lighted boats sailed out to the bar and back.

Don Nisbett Gallery, always with hot chocolate on lighted boat night….

At The Planter Box, Christmas trees arrived.

trees at the Planter Box

The Hungry Harbor Grille owners assembled their expansive Christmas Village in the back dining room of the restaurant.

Hungry Harbor Christmas Village

I imagined that I lived in a two story apartment of the top floor of the building, lower right.  For some reason it appealed to me more than any Victorian village house, and it did have a roof garden and close proximity to a greenhouse.

We made the last rounds of our gardening jobs.  Mary and Denny of Klipsan Beach Cottages always did the best garden holiday decorating of any of our clients.

at Klipsan Beach Cottages

December at KBC

Olde Towne Trading Post Café and Antiques

Mid December found Allan and I at last on our staycation.  I went most days to Olde Towne Café and, realizing it was the perfect dream of a coffee shop, created a Facebook page for them.

Olde Towne holidays

How very much we needed our winter of peace, puttering, reading and rest.  Much as I have done in 2012 by writing these flashback journals, in the winter of ’09-’10 I scanned photos of the past and relived thirty years of memories.


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On the night of November 21st a wind whipped the Peninsula, nothing as fierce as the big blow of 2007 but enough to create considerable havoc.  We went out the next morning to check out our jobs.

The fences at Jo’s garden had fared rather badly. The top of an arbour had blown off and decorative pieces had blown to the ground.

Jo’s fences and tree

Chen’s Chinese Restaurant’s big and seemingly sturdy sign made a difficult clean up task.

Chen’s sign down

Most shocking to us, a road closed sign ominously blocked our access to check on my mother’s house, sitting empty and for sale.  Trees in the road and a downed power line prevented our safe access but we came in from the north, determined to see what had happened.

trees down by my mother’s house

Inside the garden, the root mass of trees had pulled up flower beds and path on the east side.  Shortly before mom’s heart attack, Allan and I had had an enjoyable day blazing a walking path for her among the trees of her little patch of woods.  She had thought it would add more interest to have a defined path along the back of the south garden next time she had a garden open day.  The entry to the woodsy trail had been upended.

huge rootballs

Where once had been the fairy chair, the calla lilies, ferns, and hellebores had become a confusing mishmass of sand, landscape fabric and bark from the path, and dislodged plants.  We rescued what plants we could to take to mom’s new garden at Golden Sands and were mighty glad we’d taken the fairy chair back to our own garden.

From this….

July 2009

to this…

November 2009

From this:

July 2009

to this:

November 2009

My mother had mentally and emotionally moved on from her garden.  She’d had to or she’d not have been able to enjoy her new and much more social life in assisted living.  In a way she had begun to let go a couple of years before when she could no longer do her own gardening and had held on, with our help, till her garden had seen its summer of glory earlier in 2009.  Now we knew that whoever bought the home and garden would truly be beginning anew and that at least part of the garden would be so changed that very little remained of what it had been.

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I’m both a “cat person” AND a “dog person” and want to be sure to give cats equal time...

First in my heart was my own good cat Dumbles, a shy boy who loved only me.  His sibling, Miss Marble, had died a couple of years before, which had bonded him even more strongly to me.  He feared all other humans (although he had accepted my former partner, Robert, but had never sat on his lap).

Dumbles, 1999-2011

Our other cat Maddy, two years older, had never forgiven us for bringing Dumbles and Marble home.  (I had mistakenly thought she was lonely and would enjoy the company.)  She still growled at the very sight of them and had moved outside in a huff for a few years, but as she got older she relented and came back in.  She despises all cats and likes every human she meets, although she will lure a person into scritching her belly and then give a bite as a reward..

Maddy the grumpy

At The Planter Box garden centre we were always greeted warmly by the gregarious Cassius, who liked all people but would chase a dog right out of the shop.  He had originally lived at Sea Garden but there he had bullied a shy and timid resident cat.  Being a shop cat with important jobs to do (greeter, mouser) was ideal for Mr. Cassius.

Cassius, King of the Planter Box

Meanwhile, a friend  had begun to foster kittens from our local South Pacific County Humane Society, so one precious litter after another made its way through her guest room.

The first litter came complete with momma kitty and all of them, including the mother, were adopted.

first litter and mother cat

litter number one, growing up

The second litter was motherless and had to be bottle fed, which we helped with occasionally.

bottle feeding kittens

kittens from the second fostered litter

They grew up scrappy and brave.  One got adopted, but our friend found she could not part with the other three.  That’s the danger of being the kitten mom with a bottle.

confident kittens

three of the bottle fed crew

Bottle fed kittens also must be washed by their human with a warm washcloth to mimic the licking of the mother cat.


2 bottle-fed kittens grown up

the pinky white pair

The next pair of bottle fed kittens was a pinky-white pair.  Our friend’s mom helped out with the frequent feeding.  All the cats got along well, usually.

second and third litter

pinky white kits

Finally came the last fostered litter of 2009, this time with their mother.  We called them the hat cats because each kitten and the mom had hats on their heads.

hat cats

Again, all were adopted.  Our local shelter is no-kill and is aided immeasurably by a revolving and caring bunch of kitten and puppy foster homes.  You can interact with the shelter via their Facebook page.  If you have time and the space to do so, consider fostering.

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At the darling Seaview cottage called Crank’s Roost, we managed to work one day in September at the project of creating paths through the south woodsy lot.  The established gardens inside the front gate and to the east of the house always filled our eyes with pleasant details as we sorted out picks, rakes, prybars and shovels for the job.

Crank’s birdhouse

at Crank’s Roost, 4 Sept

before and after, 9-4

The paths told me where they wanted to go as imagined where I would want to walk if the garden were mine.

accessing the back corner, 9-4

We need to place a chair or bench at the south-west back corner in order to make it a destination, because it can be nothing but a dead end due to the steep little slope along the south side fence.

a network of paths, 9-4

After one September work day and a check up on all of our regular jobs, we had to get ready for the Rod Run to the End of the World, one of the year’s biggest tourist weekend when the town gardens in Long Beach and Ilwaco need to be perfect.  Then we dove with all our energy into sorting my mother’s stuff for her moving sale and getting her home cleaned and ready to go on the market.  Finally, in October, we returned to Crank’s Roost to find that the wasp’s nest in the back of the wildnerness had been vacated, and we were able to clear that area.

the south side reclaimed, 10-12

Always the goal on the south side is to hide the north wall of the hulking grey house next door.  Its greyness blends with the sky, and it has no high nosily overlooking windows, but until trees grow up to hide it the sense of Crank’s Roost privacy will be incomplete.

On November 22nd after the first big seasonal rains, we pondered the look of the south side garden and decided that 2010s project would be some raised gravel paths to improve drainage and make the garden walkable in all weather.

rainy season, 11-22

The marsh grass could stay in a couple of swales, perhaps even deepened to give a place for the water.  Some bog plants like Darmera peltata and perhaps some skunk cabbage (known poetically in the UK as swamp lanterns) could be added.

The storm had been not just lots of rain but some fierce wind, creating an even bigger project that needed to be addressed.  The trees planted by Lisa and Buzz in boggy ground had gone all cattywampus and we could see that their now-exposed rootballs were rotting away in the damp.

a sad situation, 12-4

The trees a bit more to the back were still upright.  The tilted trees were indeed tall, as Allan demonstrated by standing next to one.

The trees had been rather large when planted.  My theory, inspired by other people’s research, is that if one plants a smaller tree it WILL catch up in a very few years to a bigger tree, and will be able to root in and establish itself better because it will suffer less transplant shock. “A six-foot tree will make an immediate impact, but a smaller tree will establish more quickly and soon catch up on a larger one.”  (words of wisdom from the Cheltonham Tree Group)

On this last 2009 workday at Crank’s Roost, not all was gloomy trees atilt and boggy puddles.  The sun came out and cast beautiful backlighting onto the garden.

Crank’s Roost lantern, 12-4

late autumn, 12-4

our friend Sophie came to work with us and basked in the sun.

Postscript:  In late February of 2010 we dealt with the tree problem.  When digging them out we heard an earthy squelching sound and found brackish water in the root holes.  Wondering if they would even survive, we moved them to the back slightly higher slope where they could work on hiding the grey house.

late February 2010: Look at that tiny root mass!

In 2010 we did make gravel paths and raised some of the planting beds and added some charming smaller trees.  In summer at least the willow hides most of the grey house, and as for the trees, we wait.  The transplanted ones have, to our amazement, survived.

summer 2011 at Crank’s Roost

Writing this reminds me that I never did plant Darmera peltata there.  This would be a great time to transplant some from a vigorous patch in a Long Beach park!

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