Archive for Jan, 2019

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Astoria, Oregon

The Joy Train
passing the Garden of Surging Waves

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This post is a surprise.  I had planned to read and watch Gardeners’ World for two weeks before posting again.  However, I went OUT on January 19th.  For the sake of narrative flow, I must catch up on the first half of the month before writing about the outing.

1 January 2019

I had frozen the leftover beefy bits from our Christmas Eve dinner and began to give delicious bites to my neighbours each day.

Kota and Bentley enjoy the Depot Restaurant prime rib leftovers

2 January 2019

in the garden:

Joseph’s Coat rose and Melianthus major

Iris unguicularis had bloomed and fallen before I saw it.

Dichroa febrifuga

the first hellebore to bloom

January 2nd was Allan’s birthday.  We shared a repast at the Shelburne Pub.


Allan has now reached “full retirement age” per Social Security, but we will not collect because it is still not enough to live on, so on with work we will (do our best to) go for at least two more years.

On the next day, I visited the clinic again about the ear problem that continues to plague me.  Just as I had dreaded, an appointment was set for me to visit an ear specialist in Longview, three weeks later.  I was most unhappy.  The problem is trivial compared to my friends’ medical woes but———I just want a staycation where I can stay home and NOT be sick and NOT go on a four hour round trip drive.  (Last year, it was shingles.)

J9 wanted to visit before her own partial staycation ended and so we had a good long chat on the 4th, over tea and pastries at my house.  And then, from January 5th through 11th, I had the sheer and amazing bliss of seven non-peopling days.  A cooperative series of storms blew in, enabling me to not even leave the house most days, much less the property. Much reading ensued. There will be a January reading post later on.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Good weather came so I had to emerge from the house….

the yellow rain gauge

…and spent the day dividing and potting up a big variegated iris for my plant sale.

After removing about one third, the clump was still substantial.



Saturday, 12 January 2019

I had to emerge so that we could help Our Jenna (Queen La De Da) at her new Mermaid Sandcastle shop and event venue in Long Beach.  We joined her painting party weekend on Saturday afternoon, only because we dote on her.

On the way, we checked on the boatyard and port gardens and the fire station garden.  All look fine and won’t need any work for awhile.

volunteer garden at the fire station

and the post office, with snow drops in lower right

In Long Beach, I checked on Fifth Street Park.  It will hold up till early February.

Jenna’s Mermaid Sandcastle is just to the east of Fifth Street Park.

Longtime readers with extra sharp memories might recall that years ago when this was a vacation cottage called Summer House, we made a little garden here.

Now it is Jenna’s work domain.

The garden was here, gone now.

From inside, the view of the park’s frying pan

On a rainy day in mid December, Jenna photographed Fifth Street Park from her upstairs window.

photo by Jenna Lanette Austin

Today Allan fixed Jenna’s gate and did some work on the garage.

I put primer on these drawers, inside and out.



Before her sneak peek….

…we will be helping Jenna move at least a couple of loads from her Ilwaco shop to Long Beach.

After painting, because we were already away from home, we checked on the Shelburne Hotel garden.

back yard

looking south in the front garden

and north…

And because we were there, we had an early dinner.  Susie of the Boreas Inn and Our Kathleen joined us in the pub.  We talked for something like four hours.

fried chicken sandwich, must be deconstructed before eating

chopped salad with the same scrumptious chicken

Korean fried rice

seafood stew

Sunday, 13 January 2019

With more good weather, I did more plant sale potting. At dusk, I found an episode of 2017 Gardener’s World to watch.


I learned that skunk cabbage is now considered a noxious weed in the UK and was taken on a tour of an interesting garden on the site of an old garage.

This van had been turned into a greenhouse.


I had been so looking forward to hiding out in my lair for another week or more.  However, the Depot Restaurant had their twice yearly paella special and that was well worth emerging for one more evening.

African daisies still blooming in the Depot window boxes

14-18 January 2019

Good weather Monday and Tuesday meant more dividing and potting up.  I had kind friends bringing me empty pots as I was almost out. I had gotten down to just this many left when rescue deliveries came.

I had resorted to potting in cat food and soup tins.

My friends next door have learned to expect a treat.  After finishing the Christmas eve leftovers, we bought them some good and healthy dog treats.

Bentley and Kota

my audience

Allan finished the refurbishing of the work trailer.

When the rain came on Wednesday, I finished a book and then found a couple of episodes of Gardeners’ World online, and then….then! I saw on Facebook an ad for a streaming channel called Inside Outside TV.  It had the complete 2011 and 2012 seasons of GW!

Oh my. For $47, I subscribed for one year and, on Thursday and Friday, while a wet gale blew past the house, I watched all of season one.  I learned much which I think will deserve a late January post or two of “What I Learned from Gardeners’ World.”  These are the first two seasons when Monty returned after having a stroke and began to broadcast from his own garden instead of a staged garden.  The experience of watching is paradise for me. When I finish those, I will subscribe to BritBox to watch the 2018 season.  I am tired of spending fifteen minutes or more between episodes trying to find more of them randomly posted online.  (Someone suggested another source, but I cannot find the comment and my memory fails me, so if you are reading, kind person, please tell me again.)

Skooter has become a regular lap cat this month.

Because the rain was supposed to continue, and because my ear is still bothersome, I had a darned good excuse to not attend the Women’s March on Saturday.  I fervently looked forward to another all day binge of 2012 GW episodes.  And then…we woke to fine weather and had to go do our political duty after all.  I felt miserable about it, but it turned out well. The march will be the next post.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Walking to the march gathering place, we saw the gentleman who works on the steep garden by the Senior Center.

The personal part of the march that made it turn out so well for me was that I walked the whole way with Jane, the Mulch Maid, who has a weekend home in Astoria. We talked about gardening. Afterward, we visited her house on the south slope, met her spouse, Ben, dined on sandwiches from the Sasquatch food truck and admired the view.

The Sasquatch truck is run by Chef Jason Lancaster, formerly of the Cove in Long Beach.

It is kitty corner across the street from….

The Garden of Surging Waves

Edgeworthia in bloom

Jane at the Sasquatch truck

The view from Jane’s house includes a street sign for Pleasant Street (lower right)

on the table; Jane’s mother was in the Land Army!

Jane had a couple of Gardeners’ World magazines for me, and before dark we were off home again where I intend to return to the world of the show as much as possible for the rest of the month.






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remembering Rudder

Early in January, we heard from our neighbours, Jared and Jessika, that good old Rudder had died at age 16.

“We wanted to let you know because you shared in the life of our special flower 🌹😇, whether as a puppy in Alaska, a mischievous coyot in the Desolation Wilderness, or a relentless about-towner on the beaches and bogs of the Peninsula. Thank you for all the love you gave Rudder and our family — we sure miss his ornery, fuzzy butt.”  

I wept over him.  He was a dog of great dignity, at least when I knew him in his later years starting in 2014 when he became our neighbour. In his younger days, he was the inspiration for one of the dogs in this logo for the Cranberrian Fair.

Photo courtesy Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco

This month, I read Faithful by Alice Hoffman and found this passage that reminded me of Rudder.

Current Google street view, taken in 2013, Rudder at home

I asked Allan to find photos of Rudder.  (I have photos, too, but mine are not as organized as Allan’s.)  The photos told the story of my quest to get Rudder to be my buddy.

beach approach, 2015
2016 on the beach approach

(Rudder’s people had a shop at the start of the approach road for their Starvation Alley cranberry juice products.)

2017 outside our front gate

Rudder was slowing down and could no longer go running with Jared, who told me that he would sometimes run around the block instead of a distance so that he could say hi to Rudder again.

2018, beach approach with Yarrow

I would give him treats, so he started to come over to see us sometimes.


2018, looking for more cheese

He had gotten stiff and would think for a long time before lying down.


I found a few photos that had been published here:

Rudder playing hard to get. 2014
Rudder, 2014
Rudder snoozing in his front garden, July 2018
Rudder in our garden, 2018
Rudder 2018, visiting
Rudder’s last visit for a treat, November 2018

I doted on that good boy and will miss him.

As always when a good dog dies, I reread this poem, which was first shared to me by our friend J9:

The House Dog's Grave (Haig, an English bulldog)

I’ve changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you’d soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read–and I fear often grieving for me–
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope that when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that’s too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.

And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

Robinson Jeffers, 1941

We will be raising a toast to him tonight at 7 PM.


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Here are some takeaways from just some of the books I read in December.

Smoky was my familiar!

Language Arts

I do wish the library would be more careful with their stickers.  The author wrote one of my favourite novels ever, Broken For You.  I liked seeing the memoirist, Doris Grumbach, mentioned in the acknowledgments.  I would like to reread Doris’s memoirs.

The first couple of chapters inspired me to give the book a high rating. It is grim, so you might want to skip on to the next book.


Oh dear.  (I do wonder what enlightened parents and grandparents of the newest generation think about the future.)  The author proposes no solutions.

…an utterly fascinating history book by one of my favourites.  (I adore her memoir, Waiting for My Cats to Die.)  In a telly show I recently was struck by the cheerful looking red aerial tramway in New York—turns out it comes from the former “Damnation Island”.

I am one of the lucky ones who can “do what I love” for work, partly from a willingness to be what most of the people I know would consider poor.


On the generational economic impact of racism:


(This is covered in depth in the book Waking Up White.)


Makes me even more determined to represent real working class life.

still more serious reading

I also burned through a most exciting mysteries, the Maeve Kerrigan series by Jane Casey and all of Belinda Bauer’s mysteries.  Both had been recommended to me as worthy successors of Ruth Rendell.  Bauer is the most like Rendell, and one of hers was the best psychological suspense that I had read since Ruth died.

I read Ketzel Levine’s Plant This—actually a reread because I had read them all when they were columns in the Oregonian.

I realized that the reason I have so many of the plants she writes about it because, through those Oregonian columns, she inspired me to buy them.

Sometime before the end of January, I hope to do the overview of the complete year of reading.

Skooter helped with this post.

After tomorrow morning’s post, I’ll be returning to reading, garden puttering and Gardeners’ World for another two or three weeks.   I also must visit an ear specialist over an hour and a half away—a road trip being just about the last thing I want to do on staycation. I have accomplished nothing of my winter house projects nor have I acquired and spread yards of mulch in the garden. (Weather and the potting project have gotten in the way.)  I still hope to do some of that in the last three weeks of staycation…even though it is seeming more and more unlikely.



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25 December 2018

The Christmas present exchange between me and Our Kathleen had a touch of O’Henry about it.

from Kathleen (Cream Earl Grey is delicious)

To Kathleen (from NIVA green gift shop)

I would love to have sent the same Liquid Wisdom teapot to Montana Mary but have a long and sad history of fragile things getting broken by the time they reach her.

We had already celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve, so I spent the afternoon potting up plants for my Memorial Day plant sale.

rain gauge

In hazy winter light, the lawn sparkled but I could not catch that in a photo.

new greenhouse lean to already full

Skooter helped with digging and dividing.

A terrible disappointment: The Eryngium, grown from seed from a reputable big name seed company, that was supposed to be Miss Willmott’s Ghost, have all turned out to be just an ordinary eryngium (and this one is blooming in winter).

I am sad.  I still desperately want Miss Willmott’s Ghost.  If anyone can bring me a real one, I will take that person out to dinner at the Shelburne Pub!

I have had a potting soil situation.  I bought the same brand from two different local stores.  One shipment is normal looking and dark.  One is extremely red and barky.

This kind, spray painted to mark the barky batch.

So I bought some from each source and mixed them, two parts good to one bad (at least, I think it is bad).

I think the red and barky soil is not as good (left).

Look at the difference, same brand!

The barky bags also had a lot of this.

What do you think about that, fellow gardeners?

26 December 2018

rain gauge and Frosty getting ready to help

Along with potting up starts, I did a little project.  The patio I made in January of 2011 had pavers at the edge, with the water boxes that were later installed.  I suddenly realized those pavers no longer served any purpose and took them out.

I crammed in some sod so that it can be string trimmed right to the edge of the boxes and will no longer be a weedy mess.

From the free wood pile by Jessie’s Fish Co, Allan brought home an armload of plastic venetian blinds.  He had asked me months ago if I wanted them for plant tags.  At that time, I was tired from work, had no intention of having a plant sale, and said no.  I had been regretting that no and was thrilled the slats were still there.

now chopped into plant tag length, four per slat

The potting continued with hellebore seedlings and divisions of golden oregano.

I am keeping track of the time I spend on this project, and the soil, and will divide that by any profit I make to see if this is a worthwhile thing to do after we retire.  (I have dreams of a plant stand at the Saturday market.)

Allan got round to photographing a gnome (made by Wendi Peterson at a Basket Case Greenhouse winter workshop) in a downtown window.

27 December 2018

I continued on a doomed mission to remove as much Ficaria verna (lesser celandine) as possible from areas of the garden where it is taking over.  It no doubt came from plants I brought from my mother’s garden.  It goes dormant in summer, so during the time when I was taking plants while we had her house for sale, its tiny corms hitched a ride.

little round leaves on the run

I am unlikely to win this battle.  I do love the bright yellow spring flowers.

I debated cutting down more dead perennial growth with The Toy, but what is left still looks beautiful to me.

Chelone (pink turtlehead)

We had made a trip to The Planter Box to get some pots back; I have been donating all my extras back to them before I decided on having a plant sale.

potted up some hens and chicks in these cute tiny pots

The only hen that has made no chicks is my favourite one that I bought for about $8 last spring:

Sempervivum ‘Gold Nugget’ is, so far, ungenerous.

After dark, I took a break from daily reading to watch just one episode of Gardeners’ World.  I know if I go down that rabbit hole, my reading plans will end for the winter so I must resist.  But…just one…

I trusted my memory so can not tell you the location of a garden right by the sea…

with a wonderful greenhouse…

…where the gardeners mulched with seaweed.

They said it helped to repel slugs and snails.

I wept with the tenderness of the visit between Carol Klein and Beth Chatto, one of my all time favourite inspirational gardeners.

30 December 2018

We’d had more rain. and now I had a semi-squally winter afternoon for more potting up of plants.

This time, I worked partly in the greenhouse making cuttings.  Wish me luck; it would be wonderful if these take. I was advised in a workshop of yore and by my friend Ann to use perlite.  I had one small bag of the stuff, but found it hard to stuck the cuttings in so I made a mix of half perlite and half seed starting mix.

I used santolina (green and silver), escallonia, rosemary, hardy fuchsia, red and gold twig dogwood, and a few other plants.

Maybe the ones in the lower right should have fewer leaves (olearia, just an experiment).

Skooter chose to not help out in the iffy weather.

sound asleep by the bathroom sink, the warmest room in the house

31 December 2018

We had ice!  Definitely a reading day.

My sarracenia did not mind the ice.

My plant sale stash is growing, but no more will be added till the weather warms up again. We did not dip down into the 20s so I did not have to cover these.

I learned this month that while planting in the ground is not a task I enjoy, I love potting up starts and making cuttings.  I found myself wishing that I had kept my previous home, which was zoned commercial, so that I could have had a weekend nursery.

Wishing you a belated happy new year as I finally got around to writing this on January 17th!

Next: some of the reading of late December.


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Allan further explored a river near Astoria. If you click here, and read just the part about January 11th, you can catch up on his latest boating excursion. It can’t be “reblogged” because, in making his blog a handy reference for local boaters, he stacks the adventures on each waterway all into one post per location. We are having some discussions about the navigation of his Southwest Washington Paddle Trips blog. I find it confusing to land on the table of contents each time, and I find it hard to track down the most recent post. He has the orderly mind of an engineer and my mind is rather…tangly.

I promise to write a blog post tomorrow. I hope to keep that promise….It has been awhile. I do have to boot up my computer for book-keeping reasons, after many days of reading and garden puttering. During the quiet days, I access the internet through iPhone and iPad which are much clunkier for blog writing.

Do check out the link to Allan’s day. He took some lovely river photos.

Meanwhile, at home:

Skooter, me, and Monty Don.

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