Archive for Mar, 2020

27 March: more reading

Friday, 27 March 2020

I continued to read The Body: A Guide for Occupants, every page of which was fascinating.

Some interesting news about food:

…..and later….

Further information that has a bearing on our current times:

The inequities of life expectancy….

…and medical care both bad…

….and good.

It’s a worthy read in every way, including touches of Bill Bryson’s wry humor. And I did manage to stay away from the news long enough to finish it today.

Meanwhile, Allan was productive in the kitchen, processing frozen bananas for our pandemic supplies, now that we are not shopping.

I find myself deeply uncomfortable having people shop for us because we are “high risk” (over 60). I don’t like suddenly being seen as old. It makes me feel looked down on and less valuable, which is odd, because I was always more comfortable with old folks than with the young. I can’t bear the thought of a friend of a friend shopping for us, and it has to be someone we can do something for in return. For example, when we are out of yogurt, I could fairly comfortably get more from Roxanne of the Basket Case Greenhouse, as we did before, because we could buy from her several bags of potting soil to give a boost to her business income at the same time.

I’m used to being the one doing favors, not taking them. My ongoing social discomfort that underlies all social activities to some degree (and I do mean all) is exacerbated by being beholden. I’d better get used to it, as we will run out of yogurt and milk now and again.

Today all state recreational properties, including trailheads and boat launches, were closed until further notice.

And this meme spoke to me.

Some may be annoyed that staying home for weeks on end seems easy to me. It’s not easy now. I have not been gloating about the gift of introversion in any way. I know that the social distancing and stay at home orders are hellish for many people, especially those separated from beloved family members, so here’s a reminder that I saw in a Facebook meme:

Introverts, check in on your extrovert friends. They are not okay. They have no idea how this works.

Now is not a time that even such as I can truly enjoy being a recluse; with every moment I am aware of the suffering going on, not just in some parts of the world, but everywhere. And yet, an article in the Wall Street Journal about boosting your immune system “recommends engaging in activities that people find relaxing, such as meditation.” If I can relax while reading or gardening and not get sick, that could be one less hospital bed used, so maybe it is ok to find some moments of happiness at home.

Tonight we had the joy of watching the new episode of Gardeners’s World on BritBox. I learned that dahlias from cuttings retain vibrant colour better than dahlias from tubers (which depends on having some dahlias from which to get cuttings).

I burst into tears when Monty said that they would do their best to keep bringing us the show. Please, please, please, even if it is interspersed with old segments. Even if it is Sarah filming Monty in the garden on her iPhone.


News from the Pacific Northwest

Stop reading now if Covid news is more than you can bear right now.

Here goes.

The Skagit Valley Choir story has gotten even more tragic with two deaths. Some think that Choir singers might project more, well, breath into the air. I’m so glad Mr Tootlepedal’s choir stopped practicing because I don’t think could get by without his blog right now. The especially pertinent warning from the article: “Experts said the choir outbreak is consistent with a growing body of evidence that the virus can be transmitted through aerosols — particles smaller than 5 micrometers that can float in the air for minutes or longer.”

And an interesting article about grocery stores across the river from us. If we were to go shopping over there, I’d choose the Astoria Co-op over all others.

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Thursday, 26 March 2020

Allan was the only productive household member today. He took an old door off of the south fence. I had once though it would be useful for hauling debris out of the wild area, but had never used it. It had gotten quite shabby.
The area looks better with a fence panel instead of a door.
That iris is the noxious yellow flag that has been there since before we moved in. I’d be more concerned about removing it if I had more time (which apparently I will soon) or if it bloomed (which it does not).
Most of the day saw rain and wind. In one brief sun break, while letting a cat out (they prefer to be butlered  at the door rather than using the cat door), I admired my Acanthus ‘Hollard’s Gold’ from the front porch.

I offer you this guest photo from Susie and Bill of the Boreas Inn in Long Beach, Washington, of the view from their deck.  With no beach driving allowed now, it would be a perfect time to park at their place and take a walk to the beach. But driving around for pleasure does not really adhere to the stay at home policy, especially when the locals are saying that there seems to be more exceptionally bad driving and near accidents on the roads.

Meanwhile, enjoy this spectacular sunset.


I started reading Bill Bryson’s newish book, The Body: A Guide for Occupants…

2F0CA276-2423-4700-BCC7-D31EB1DB196F in which he speaks of “the rare and supremely agreeable condition known as life”.
It presciently contains some useful information on germs. In our current dire circumstances, I don’t think he would mind me sharing with you that…


If you are at home and gardening, do remember, with hospitals overtaxed, to not do yourself an injury like this unfortunately policeman.
Tomorrow should give me another rainy day to finish this book.


News that got my attention today

Florida spring breakers express regret

“Of course, Sluder, 22, of Milford, Ohio, has elderly people in his life whom he “adores.” He didn’t want to put anyone at risk. Now, he understands how serious the virus is and is encouraging people to follow the guidelines on how to stay safe and reduce risk. Most of all, he’s sorry.

Some helpful advice about social distancing

”All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”



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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

I’m pleased to report that I may have a Canna ‘Stuttgart’ this year. I got a nice firm root (corm? Rhizome?) from Dutch Gardens….

…after last year getting a slimy rotten one from Brent and Becky’s and a dried up one from Home Depot. (I should have asked for a refund but got too busy.)

We had had this much rain.
68A6A3C3-AF2E-4C59-B264-88B8E16FAC6BAlthough yesterday’s east side front garden project was not done, I turned to the big east bed of the back garden because it had a far more serious creeping buttercup problem…and the wind was not cold from the south today.


After wading into that mess, I ended up going sort of sideways and never did get the part done that was in the before photo. At 6:30 PM, just as I was going to get that last bit, I hit the wall physically and went indoors for a nice cup of Builders. I don’t think it’s smart to work past the point of exhaustion these days.


I wish I had taken a before of the areas I actually did.  The difference was impressive. It was the worst area for creeping buttercup. One pernicious patch will have to be dug out with the Slayer and the pick.
Casualties: one or two lily buds.
I usually have the weeding further along by now (I think). Winter weeding was hampered by a month of rain followed by the gravel project.
Meanwhile, Allan pruned the big broken willow outside the south fence.

Some greiggi tulips:


Outside, the world is quiet with almost everything closed. Earlier in the day, some crab pots had been piled much higher than usual behind the gear shed, making for a scenic back drop that I enjoy. They were well lashed together.
On the west side of the garden, an area of couch grass awaits.


news from elsewhere 

From the U.K.: Are gardeners essential workers

from The Atlantic: How the Pandemic Will End

from Washington State, https://www.skagitbreaking.com/2020/03/27/covid-19-virus-devastates-skagit-valley-chorale-group/…..proving in a tragic way that social distancing and hand washing was not enough to stop the virus.  I am sharing that article as a cautionary tale.

…and there is a meme going around that says, “It’s Ok not to be at your most productive during a f@#*ing global pandemic.”  Thank you and be safe.



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Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Skooter in the morning, next to my sleepy head:

I made a statement on our Facebook business page and felt relieved to have the decision done with. I was probably just making it so no one else would make it for us, because one of my many flaws is that I do not excel at being told what to do or not do.
I got the rainy day I had been waiting for to read my new and quite rare book by Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, a birthday present from Allan. Only 3000 copies were printed, as far as I can tell. Just 85 large pages long, with Don’s full page illustrations of Christopher and of their friends, it is a month of a Christopher diary.



As I neared the end, the sun came out. I ignored it and finished reading.
I found out where Skooter was when our neighbor, Jessika, texted me this photo.
Allan had observed the visit from his desk window:

6943D139-E1F1-463E-A5EB-8FB4E9441AE8A6C3BF5F-836F-4102-A2D1-654766CBD9EABecause of an insomniac late start and news reading and the book, it was four o’clock before I got out into the front garden to work further on the east side weeding.

We’d had this much rain:


Allan’s photo

Onyx from next door leapt from our garden over the fence to his own, with Skooter following.
My project before:


and after:

Casualties: One lily bud and one rhododendron bud.
The soil looks quite battered and uneven. I hope to have enough compost to mulch it. Or…I could use leaves that are not yet leaf mold, I suppose, since is this is pretty much a semi-shady shrub border.
Here is blurry proof that my young and shockingly pricey Stachyurus praecox is blooming. I had ordered it through Plant Lust without paying attention to how high the shipping charge was.

It actually originated at Gossler Farms and I should have ordered it direct. I was just so excited to find one after years of questing to have it again. Here is the one from my old house, that was too big to move:

Stachyurus praecox

Stachyurus praecox

If I am mostly going to be home for weeks, I really must start using a better camera than my old iPhone.
My large willow leaved stachyurus is not nearly as floriferous.
When I get all the weeding done, I will do some pruning and shaping up.

I love the pink and lavender of this primrose and hebe in Allan’s garden:



The water canoe (Allan’s photos)

B7A56560-B3FF-46FC-B153-C964A21CAEE3Meanwhile, with his boat project on hiatus due to lack of an instruction booklet, Allan worked on the south fence where a branch had pushed down the top board.

Allan’s photos:

8C56E0CD-B221-430F-BB34-022F06C54DBADF705170-DEBC-460A-87BC-6614482FD38C5DBE2ABF-3BCC-4C03-9F0D-F1D90D1BAA7017670CF5-C512-4629-B451-465EB2EE55F6BC5E0F0A-7D11-4511-9396-26283B2D53DEThat ivy will be dealt with if I get the more important weeding done.

With no work on the immediate horizon, I made an at home gardening list.
You would think I would get that list of indoor jobs done, but I still have not, as I’d rather read a book.
The garden jobs won’t get erased in an orderly fashion because I choose to work in whichever part of the garden is quietest or least windy. I am so grateful that we have a garden to goof around in.


After dinner and some telly, just after midnight, I was catching up on the local newsgroups and saw this.
My heart raced and my nerves jangled until, about fifteen minutes, later an update said no tsunami danger. It’s been on my mind that our worst case scenario here is a tsunami now. Please—Just. Not. Now.

news from the beach and beyond 

Campgrounds closing, public asked to stay off the beaches
…in an attempt to keep visitors away, usually the opposite of what we want.

An article with some brilliant tweets about the value of old folks

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23 March: some weeding

Monday, 23 March 2020

Karla from Time Enough Books texted me in the late morning that she had a book to drop off for me, one that has been on order since November (A Woman’s War, part of the Home Fires WWII series). We exchanged book and money with careful sanitation and mostly six foot apart distancing. Again, the money exchange was glitchy. Because it was windy, I handed her the money with tongs, at the longest possible arms length. What I should have done is put the envelope down under a small rock and backed away. Next time, I will have the method all sorted.


Skooter wanted some pets from Karla, but since I had petted him, it seemed like improper social distancing.

Her bookstore, Time Enough Books, is now closed for the duration or until…who knows.

Although I wanted to weed in the back garden (fluffier soil thus more fun), I chose the front to stay out of a cold wind from the south. I did not make as much progress as I had hoped.

Almost before:

img_0407Skooter wished to help.

After (far from done):

img_0412before and after:


And a wheelbarrow of weeds and linaria and libertia to be potted up for the elusive plant sale.
I would have enjoyed being home, and yet I felt guilty about any moments of enjoyment of being home while the whole world is suffering so all at once.

Allan, who has been working on his boat project, installed the Great Wall of China just before dusk.
8B7FE1BB-E48A-46F6-B703-44B73861D425The boat project is about to go on hiatus until the instruction book can be found, perhaps online, something about needing to know what angle of curve to make.

Because of the Washington State stay at home order, I had texted the Long Beach parks manager today to find out if they want me to maintain the city planters at this time. The reply was “We’ll let you know,” I assume after some kind of city hall discussion.

I had been planning six days off to recuperate from weeding the beach approach, having fluffed the planters nicely and planted sweet peas and poppies before taking a break. Wednesday or Thursday was my proposed next planter maintenance day.

In the evening, after watching the quite terrifying news, I made my own decision. We would stay at home for a couple of weeks and see what happens.  The next morning, I texted Parks Manager Mike and City Hall to let them know. The idea of swathes of unkempt narcissi bothers me a lot, but there is just not enough social distancing in Long Beach for my comfort right now. The sidewalks are narrow, and I cannot count on pedestrians to give us warning and six feet of space. I will revisit this decision in a couple of weeks.  The quest for information online about whether or not gardening is an essential job has been futile so far.

While it might seem this decision will save the city money in a time of need, having to bring the planters back from the possibility of weeks of weeds would take as long as keeping them cared for each week!


news update from the beach 

Seaside, Oregon made the unprecedented decision to close the city beach to everyone, including residents, in a bold move to keep tourists away. The beach there is right by downtown, with houses and hotels overlooking it. (Here, the beach is several long blocks to the west of Long Beach.) It must be strange and depressing to live in Seaside, see the beach from town, and not be able to walk on it. I am particularly sure that children and dogs find it most disheartening.

From the Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/coronavirus-concerns-turning-washingtons-tourist-destinations-into-ghost-towns/

California had the same spring break problem, despite the state already having a stay at home order: 

More concerns about the spring break hordes: Will spring breakers be super spreaders?

That phenomenon apparently has happened with Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

From the senior center, a Facebook plea:


All of Pacific County has now closed its hotels and lodgings, the town of Long Beach was described as “like a ghost town” today. All state parks in Washington have closed to the public along with various waysides, including many of the places Allan would normally be going boating on a nice March day off.

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Sunday, 22 March 2020


Jazmin has decided Allan is her favourite. She sits on his lap during telly watching and now has decided to sleep in his room. I think she got mad at me when her nemesis, Skooter, chose my lap for awhile. Now Skooter has chosen a dining room chair and I have no lap cat at all in the evening.

(WordPress has slipped me into some sort of block editor format that I can’t seem to remove from this section of today’s post.)

I managed to start gardening by one PM, quite a triumph these days, and transplanted strawberries from the third metal trough to some large plastic containers on the patio, safe from deer. Now I must decide what to do with this proposed kitchen garden container area, and whether or not to try to enclose it against the deer.

Oh, my poor languishing plant sale plants. Anyway, I have the old filing cabinet that we turned into a container. Last year I used pots inside it to save on soil, and grew morning glories. This year I think I should fill it all the way with soil and plant something edible, but what? On this warm south wall, beans might thrive if protected from deer, but would something else benefit from a wall and a deep root run? (Later: I am thinking beans and zucchini together. And I don’t even like zucchini. Desperate times!)

I had been brooding about extending the gravel project into the front grass path, making all the front garden paths gravel. The grass turns brown (or gold) in summer.

All sorts of pandemic questions came into play. Will I be able to get gravel later? If I get it now, it would block the garage, and what if I got sick and couldn’t do the project? I realized I was being ridiculously obsessed and should just focus on getting the entire big garden weeded, front and back. If gravel has to wait, so be it; it would be a good winter project, should we live so long.

So never mind that, for now.

Allan was gluing some pieces for his boat kit. While they dried, I asked him if he’d help plant poppies over at the fire station. Rumor has it our governor would be issuing a stay at home order tonight. Without knowing just what that would entail, I wanted to get the seeds into our volunteer garden now. I could have wheelbarrowed over there on my own, but that feels so conspicuous as I have to pass several houses to get there.

He agreed. We took the Slayer shovel and, while I planted seeds in the corner garden,…

….he dug out the yellow flag Iris (a noxious weed here) along the east side. Last year, it had barely emerged and I had not been sure which Iris it was.

I reorganized some ornamental grasses and planted poppy seeds in the newly cleared area.

We snagged four buckets of leaves from a shady corner for leaf mold…

….and then went home to stay for a few more days, at least, while we wait to see what to do about work. That is, at home except for middle of the night forays to the post office to get our mail from our box. This is an ongoing problem when one is trying to avoid deadly germs, and Allan has been going only about every third day. We’ve been trying to sign up for a USPS notification that shows online what letter sized mail is in the box, but there has been a glitch.

I was able to take a birthday present out of the garage quarantine tonight: just the kind of thing I very much like, from Seaview Sarah.

Tins of Tea


News report from our coast

Because of the swarms of spring break tourists, Long Beach made the emergency decision to close the beach approach roads in order to make staying here less appealing to them.

This left the approach roads outside of Long Beach town’s jurisdiction open. County commissioners had already begun working on this and by the next day, those were also closed. On Facebook, this photo of the Ocean Park approach was shared.

This means no vehicles on the beach, something I have longed for since I first came here in 1991. But not for this reason.

By evening, all hospitality lodging in the entirety of Pacific County was ordered closed. You can read more here.

The tourists had started leaving, with nowhere to stay and no beach to drive on. While we were at the fire station garden, I had noticed a steady stream of traffic heading away. Thank goodness. By evening, Washington’s governor had put in place a stay at home order for the entire state, except for “essential businesses.” More on this tomorrow.

And in some sweet and touching news, our local police department will be helping at risk elderly local citizens by picking up and delivering their medical prescriptions.

Facebook reminded me today of this memory of the annual Empty Bowls event, always in March, which raised money to help the food banks. Do you remember days like these…

….days when we could gather in groups to support worthy causes and artistic endeavors? When will they come again?

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Saturday, 21 March 2020

At home

Jazmin waited patiently for her cereal milk.

I had some difficulty getting out the door again because of reading the news.

Allan continued working on his boat project.

The instruction book is for a later model, making the project especially interesting.

Roxanne and her daughter Veda came to pick up three bags of books that I think Veda might like and to deliver potting soil from their nursery, the Basket Case. Normally we would have helped Roxanne unload but now…social distancing.

She brought us some perishable shopping items from the grocery store, much appreciated as, being old and at risk (!!!), we shouldn’t shop for ourselves at this time. I am used to be being the one doing favors for people. It is weird being on the other end.

I had a bouquet picked for Roxanne and her family; flowers and vase were handled with sterile gloves.

The book bags, also handled with new and sterile gloves, were placed outside the porch…

….and I handed off the money for soil and groceries with long handled tongs, but it would have been better to set it down to maintain the entire six feet of distancing all the time. We are all slowly learning this dance.

I at last had enough early veg seeds planted so that I could do some more spring clean up of ornamentals, including trimming fronds of ferns. These sword ferns were perfectly arranged for ease of trimming with The Toy.

Skooter wished to help.

Outside the south deer fence, I found that a willow had dropped a big branch onto the sword ferns there.

The meander line pond is still pretty full.

I love the color of this flowering quince that I got from Cistus Nursery years ago.

This was the year I had resolved to make a mid April day trip to Joy Creek and Cistus nurseries after having been too busy for several years. That won’t happen…and lost work will put a big dent in the plant budget.

This is my favourite narcissus right now.

In Allan’s garden, I was thrilled to see a trillium that I bought at Dancing Oaks Nursery in 2016. It looks like it might finally bloom this year.

Fingers crossed. I should have put some Sluggo around it.

Jazmin likes to be near us in the garden.

While waiting for some glue to dry, Allan removed the sharp bits from some metal hoops that I will use for garden decoration.

Skooter and my Corylopsis pauciflora glowed in early evening light.

We had decided to have a campfire. Allan picked up fallen branches around the garden.

Tonight was 2020’s first use of the fire circle. I wonder when we will again be able to have friends join us here.

Is that a crows’ nest in the Bogsy Wood?

The fire circle dinner of sausages in buns with mustard and ketchup tasted wonderful. Jazmin joined the festivities.

We stayed out till dusk, not dark, as it is still quite chilly at night.


Local news

All day, the local news distracted me from gardening. I was shocked at the stories of the spring breakers inundating the peninsula and northern Oregon coast with no social distancing, buying up groceries from our hard hit almost breadless stores, in some cases being drunk, and behaving, well, like they owned the place.

Here are some of the articles I read, with pertinent quotes excerpted.

Amid Health Experts Pleas to Stay Home, Coast still sees visitors

“When asked about the recommendations and pleas from health experts and local and national leaders to stop nonessential travel to help slow down the spread of the virus, Smith said “if it’s a risk to you then you should stay inside,” but that her and Wilson are “good.”


“Isaac Roberts is visiting Seaside with friends from Washington.

“Not sure if we’re really following protocol but it’s nice and sunny down here,” Roberts told FOX 12.Roberts did acknowledge the risk the virus poses to more vulnerable members of the community, like the sick and elderly. “No, those concerns were still not enough to keep us from coming here,” he said after a pause.”

Despite warning, invasions of tourists…

Excerpt: “Outrage. Disbelief. Fear for my family and friends in the vulnerable populations with the thousands, yes thousands, of people that are pouring into Tillamook County as I write this.
Look at these photos of traffic jams and overflowing parking lots – from Oswald West in the North to Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City in the south. Obviously, the masses didn’t get the message, or just chose to ignore it, and endanger our local residents.”

The locals are not being silent – If you are vacationing here on the North Oregon Coast right now, we have one message for you – GO HOME! Come back after the pandemic. Do you realize how much you are endangering our community? Our small urgent care facilities and hospitals are not equipped to handle our normal population.”

This link might go to a heartfelt plea from the mayor of Tillamook.

And the mayor of Warrenton, right across the river from us, gave tourists 24 hours to leave town.

This was shortly followed by the mayor of Long Beach ordering that the three beach approach roads in Long Beach (including Bolstad with its well weeded garden) be closed to traffic, hoping to inspire the hordes of revelers to go home.

The next morning, those fliers were found on the windshields of vehicles parked at a resort on the Sid Snyder approach.

More on all this tomorrow, after the gardening report.

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