Archive for Sep, 2021

Friday, 24 September 2021

We got a call at eight AM from the hospital offering me a ten AM physical therapy appointment, which I was happy to snag, even though I was so sound asleep at eight that I could hardly remember how to use my phone.

While I had my session, during which my PT said I had already improved on the balance exercises, Allan collected some leaves next to the parking area.

Even before noon, the weather was way too hot for us.

We stayed indoors during the day. I churned out the four blog posts previous to this one. At five, we dared to venture forth to Seaview to acquire birthday presents for Our Kathleen, first at the Depot Restaurant, a certificate so she can order her favorite take out dinner on her birthday. It made me sad that we could not have a birthday and retirement celebration with her there. Our own Covid precautions still preclude dining out.

Allan deadheaded the Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’ which we’d forgotten to do earlier in the week.

Next, we picked up her birthday libation, some Ledbetter Red from the North Jetty Brewing Company. They can the beer on the spot. Allan purchased it from a walk up window, from which one has a view into the interior.

In Seaview, we saw a fine display of sunflowers, a plant which I have found a challenge to grow here.

On the way home, we stopped to pick up our mail. I saw a poignant sign on the River City Playhouse, home of the Peninsula Players theatre group. Their latest hope of an event got cancelled because of the pandemic which is raging here…five more Pacific County residents have died of it in the last two weeks.

Most of the theatre cast and crew are retired folks, and as an older person I can attest that we look ahead to a limited time in this life. And they are losing years of the enjoyment of putting on shows together. I felt a wave of sadness and frustration….and anger at the ant-vaxxers who have contributed not only to the surge in illness and death but also to the delay for people with non-Covid medical problems to get medical help in a timely manner. Just this week, a notice appeared on my online medical portal saying messages to one’s doctor will not be read as soon as usual because of the Covid surge.

But at last the weather had cooled enough, down from 79 degrees F, for us to finish our work week.

Port of Ilwaco

First, we planted a new heather in the lavascape at CoHo Charters, where we’ve been adding summer blooming heathers to join the white winter blooming ones that are there from years back. I do like the spiky upright heathers. Frustratingly, I felt too wonky to lean over and weed much in this area that would be an unpleasant fall. I did manage to pull some dandelions along the edge.

Calluna vulgaris ‘Selly’

We then went to finish the boatyard garden. I clipped santolinas and perennials, either from my rollator or standing with the rollator on one side and the chainlink fence on the other. It is an area to work in that feels safe, with a soft landing.

Autumnally clipped santolinas will be cut back harder in spring.

The horsetail is thick in this garden.

We were running out of daylight, so one section in particular just got the weeds skimmed off. Getting some mulch will make it look better. Earlier this year Allan had dug out whole lot of Pennisetum macrourum next to the water meter box. Constant vigilance is required to keep it from coming back from behind the fence, and some new plants are needed here, maybe a division of the lovely grass, Panicum ‘Northwind’, which I have elsewhere in the boatyard garden.

With daylight waning, we called it done and went to dump our debris. The timing was perfect to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the port.

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23 September: some work

Thursday, 23 September 2021

The Red Barn Arena

We tidied and watered the barrels but not the garden bed. We are expecting another good rain on Sunday.

Working with one hand ready to grab the rollator.

Allan planted a two pieces of the blue globe thistle we’d removed from Mike’s garden yesterday. (He had gotten two euonymus in trade.)

Holly and Bentley got their biscuits and Cosmo got some cat treats.

Dianes garden

Holly was home by the time we arrived next door and got another biscuit.

I was able to mostly sit and deadhead the containers…

Salvia ‘Amethyst Lips’

….while Allan planted the biggest piece of blue globe thistle where he had recently removed some fireweed.

I pulled spent sweet peas and deadheaded from along the inside of the fence…

….while thinking that because of my mysterious August fall, I am unlikely to ever work on the outside of the fence again.

I was cutting the lavatera back, because it has rust….

…when I got an intense wave of dizziness again and had to call on Allan to finish that task while I sat for a short while. Then I sat and chopped the stems into the wheelie bin before joining him on the septic garden.

You can see Holly hoping for a third biscuit.

While the rollator may not be the best look for a professional gardener, I still believe I can produce results as good as most local jobbing gardeners except for the frustrating unpaid time when I have to wait out a dizzy spell.

On top of the vault garden

Allan pulled some of the too rampant white California poppies and planted the last bit of blue globe thistle.

We made a trip to The Basket Case Greenhouse for some bagged mulch and dropped it off at Susie’s. I had brought some plants for her, but I don’t know why, because with the top of the retaining wall where the plants will be planted is still undone. At least the mulch is already there for that happy day when we can finish planting. The plants came back home with us.

Port of Ilwaco

We clipped some santolinas in the garden on the south of the port office.

I visited Scout at Time Enough Books who, like me, is having some physical problems.

I was pleased to see my friend Loree’s book in the shop.

Fearless Gardening by Loree Bohl

Allan weeded the strip of river rock by the Captain’s Quarters lodging.

We weeded and clipped at the boatyard garden from where we left off yesterday as far as the gate. I was able to stand and bend over and weed with the chain link fence on one side and the rollator on the other.

Horsetail nightmare.

I was just about to finish the stretch from the ceanothus to the gate by weeding round a pink aster when I felt a wall of dizziness come down in front of me. Allan went on to finish that section while I sat in the van.

I looked up and saw this boat…

…and thought, I darn well WILL finish weeding the horsetail around the ceanothus. I could see it from the van.

But when I grabbed the rollator and walked the couple of feet across the sidewalk, the wall of dizziness went slam like a prison gate and I simply could not. So Allan had to do that last few minutes of horsetail control.

At home, I felt so sleepy I could have gone to bed at seven thirty. I stayed awake because we have dinner at nine, both being night owls. And because I wanted to watch Chelsea Flower Show episodes online and on BritBox. I was in bed and soon asleep at 11, simply unheard of unless I’d had the flu or some such. Coping with dizziness and finding new neural pathways is tiring.

I had another cancellation PT appointment the next morning (they call me to come in when someone cancels) and my physical therapist and I agreed that next time my brain says to go to sleep early in the evenings I will obey, even if it means postponing dinner and a show. She also said I was already doing better on my balance exercises than when I learned them on Monday.

If you imagine some sort of flamingo-like balance exercise, it’s not that fancy. First, stand with your feet together for a minute, then with feet together but one foot halfway ahead of the other for a minute each, then with one foot lined up straight in front of the other for a minute each, then stepping forward and back while reaching out with the opposite arm, ten times each. Sometimes I get so dizzy I have to put two fingers on the rollator to keep steady, but it is easier than the first day. And then walk around some cones set out in the floor like you are on a driving course, hoping to not have a wave of dizziness.

It does make me think of how thirty years ago I used to do two aerobics classes in a row, the kind where you do somewhat choreographed routines all around the room. It was fun. I gave it up when the sort of aerobics where you just step on and off a little platform came into vogue. Boring!! I remember running around Green Lake near my Seattle home and then going out dancing till two AM. The alleged wisdom of age doesn’t really make up for losing those abilities.

It reminds me of this passage in the book I’ve been reading, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Our Kathleen recently asked if I could go back to being in my 20s, without any of the knowledge I’ve gained since then, thus without the likelihood of avoiding the mistakes I made. My answer was yes, to get back those physical abilities (and maybe avoid a couple of serious mistakes) and then I remembered the migraines I used to have and changed my mind.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

At home

I sifted leaf mold.

I got three orange baskets of it.

Allan mowed Alicia’s back lawn next door, where the high water table keeps it green.

We harvested another disappointingly small batch of potted potatoes.

I guess it’s a reasonable harvest, for a pot.

Wednesday, 23 September 2021

Mike’s garden

I had two small plants of Euonymus ‘Green Spire’ to go in at Mike’s by a back yard pathway where I’d thought of putting two boxwoods. The euonymus will be better. Before, below, I am about to plant a euonymus (where shovel is) while Allan digs out a blue globe thistle (near white bucket) and replaces it with a second euonymus.

This will tie the back garden in more with the formal front garden, where Allan raked the path.

In the front corner, I tried a more flowery approach after two prostrate evergreens died. It didn’t work very well, as this corner gets little water. So after trimming some catmint, I planted a few baby santolinas that are drought tolerant and will make clipped silver balls.

Mike came home and we had a good old natter, solving a few world problems. It can be handy to have a portable seat when one isn’t steady on one’s feet.

Port of Ilwaco boatyard garden

We weeded and clipped from the north corner to the first lamppost, trying to stretch the budget by being good enough but not perfect.

Tying back a Panicum ‘Northwind’

I took a seat to talk to a boat owner who turned out to be a distant cousin of our late neighbor, Nora, Alicia’s grandma. He had found my eulogy for Nora and loved it. This conversation made my day.

We reached our weeding goal for the day, the black lamp post, trimming some santolinas and pulling a lot of horsetail, this garden’s worst weed.

We did not have time to go further because I had an eye exam appointment, my first since high school. I was afraid I would get some dire news, having put off an exam for so long, but all the news was good. No glaucoma, no cataracts, no macular degeneration. The optometrist said I don’t even need to wear glasses for work but that they could be beneficial for correcting blurriness in every day life. I’ll be getting bifocals for that and, on the advice of our friend Beverly, I will also get just plain reading glasses to keep at home for long rainy days with a book (and for blogging). They will be much better than drugstore cheaters.

Allan ran an errand to the bank and, to pass the time, took a short detour to look at our old garden bed and planters at the kite museum. Here they were in late summer a couple of years ago…

And here they are now.

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Monday, 20 September 2021

Because we had to leave the property anyway for a physical therapy appointment, I decided we should do some post storm cleanup. Susie had already told me the wind and rain had broken some of her cosmos, so I figured Patti’s would be the same.

Patti’s garden

The cosmos were battered and did not have many flower buds. Allen pulled them out.

I also asked him to dig out a Sanguisorba ‘Dali Marble’ that was just too tall and floppy for this pocket garden.

Meanwhile, I pulled sweet peas, all of them this time. Patti is right that they blocked the view of the garden.

A few morning glories remain on the fence.

Stella got her biscuits.

Allan takes most of the photos these days. It takes all my brain power to power through dizziness, or fear of dizziness, to work, and there is not much left for thinking about photos. What my brain is supposedly doing is making new pathways around whatever it is that is making me feel wonky.

The Depot Restaurant

The north side of the dining deck had not been beaten up by wind or rain.

Allan found just a few fallen strands of ornamental grasses to clip on the south side.

Susie’s garden

We both worked on snapped and fallen cosmos, especially along the driveway.

I mostly worked from my rollator.

There are still plenty of cosmos to put on a show. Susie had already pulled a big garbage bag full of broken stems.

Sweet peas along the driveway
That penstemon from a cutting about which I am well chuffed.

Along the side of the front garden, we did some weeding where the lawn was overseeded. It’s been a real problem. Susie has been working on it, too. I asked Allan to photograph an example of how one must lift up the skirts of the plants to get the grass out from the crown.

Geranium macrorrhizum

If each plant is not thoroughly weeded of the lawn grass into the interior of the plant, they will be ruined by grass all tangled and threaded through their crowns and would have to be dug up, roots washed thoroughly, and replanted, giving them a setback in growth and health.

A santolina in trouble.

I then had my first work session with my physical therapist. Allan did a little more work at a garden nearby.

Ilwaco Community Building

He trimmed the mugo pines unwisely planted on either side of the sign. If not trimmed, they would grow up and obscure the sign.


When I told him I would have pruned the maple branch, too, Allan assured me that it only obscures part of the sign from the ramp up to the parking lot, not from the street.

I noticed when we were driving home that someone had gone into the tiered garden by the building and had cut back all the Sanguisorba ‘Pink Elephant’ that, in my opinion, gracefully dangles slightly over the railing. I can only think the storm had made them drop into the way rather than gracefully slightly dangle. I still felt it was an infringement on our job, but also our fault for not checking it. It most decidedly did NOT have to be cut ALL THE WAY TO THE GROUND.

Meanwhile, my physical therapist had done some more eye movement tests and she believes I do not have Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo (BPPV), or at least not only that. The way my eyes track things is they have to … jump around to readjust after fast movements….or something like that. So she thinks I have a more “central” problem which would maybe be inner ear, not a peripheral problem which would be BPPV. She mentioned Meniere’s Disease but I don’t think I am losing hearing nor do I have some of the other symptoms of that. She’s hoping my visit to the ENT and the neurologist will help narrow down a diagnosis. Then we worked on some balance exercises which involved standing still with my feet in different close together positions. Challenging because I get dizzy standing still. I did do some stepping forward and back and walking around some mini cones. I’m supposed to practice at home…only the easier ones unless Allan is there to spot me. Although I look back on all the things I used to do when I was a work out addict, thirty years ago, and wonder how it came to simple stepping and standing being a challenge, I am grateful for any progress.

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19 September: bin two

Sunday, 19 September 2021

At home

While Allan worked on the blog post that published a couple of days ago and made some more applesauce, I went outside with my rollator and sifted the remaining contents of compost bin two.

It looked promising.

I got two wheelbarrow loads of good compost.

It was a bit of a cheat with the remaining uncomposted debris, though. I had to throw some of it backwards onto the bin three pile instead of forward onto bin one. I like to go in one direction, but bin one was piled too high and I didn’t have the oomph to keep pushing the pile to the back.

Beverly came over to deliver some kitchen compost to the plastic food waste bin and we had a good chat as I finished up. Allan dumped the two wheelbarrow loads for me on the front driveway bed. I still am not steady enough to feel confident with the wheelbarrow.

Driveway bed with its first wheelbarrow full.

I put cardboard down on the base of the empty bin to keep the horsetail out. It works if I add new cardboard every time a bin gets emptied.

By then it was evening. I hoped to water in the greenhouses and pick some more tomatoes, but first, I admired the autumnal garden.

the larger in ground pond with sarracenias
center bed
the canoe
Kniphofia ‘Earliest of All’, Verbena bonariensis, yellow cosmos
The Golden Time with Solidago ‘Fireworks’ and Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

I wanted to go to the Bogsy Wood to see if distressed plants had perked up after the rain, but as I looked down this path….

….I had a frustrating wave of dizziness that kept me from going further. However, I reminded myself how much better I was than at the start of the month when there were days I could not leave the house or even shampoo my own head, and so I remained hopeful and accepting of progress being slower than I would like.

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Saturday, 18 September 2021

at home

In the morning, I watched a glorious zoom webinar, featuring one of my favorite garden writers, which I should have promoted here but forgot to. It was free with pre registration, and I apologize for not mentioning it in advance.

I took many screenshots and took some notes:

Less control and more connection to the natural world.

Relax the land.

Using plants that feel right for the place “but tune it up.” In other words, naturalistic planting refined.

A hand of gentle care in the wilderness so we can feel we are part of the place

Formal garden an imposition on nature

One of my favorite of the gardens he presented was at Lowther Castle, which years ago was “ruinated to avoid paying taxes.” He planted inside the ruins in a way that I found breathtaking and planted a maze of Eglantine rose (smells like apples) patterned after the shape of an old rose. Let people feel part of a forgotten garden. You can see the photos that we got to see in the webinar right here.

Once again I was reminded, as when I recently watched Dan Pearson’s earlier webinar and then read his book about the Tokachi Millennium Forest, that I very much want to grow Cephalaria gigantea.

In the afternoon, after two days of rain, I asked Allan to bring me a photo record of our blissfully wet garden. He took a garden walk during a rain break, and then the rain returned heavily through the night into Sunday, very close to 2 inches of it over two days.

The red and the yellow rain gauges both have leaks.
the in ground pond with new stones from Patti
Fire circle with some lawn dips filled
It had been windy.
The swales in the Bogsy Wood had not filled with water.

He took some recycling to the bins down at the port and saw two storm flags flying.

Back home, he made applesauce, to freeze for winter, from the big old tree’s harvest. There will be much more to come.

Picking, last week
Only a fraction of the apples we have
He uses an apple peeler and an apple slicer.

He also turned a marrow into dehydrated veg for soups.

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Thursday, 16 September 2021

At home

We (mostly Allan) unloaded the trailer of all the good stuff we got yesterday at work: river rocks, bunny poo, and compost.

I managed to drag the compost around to the bins and layer it into bin one with some brown compost from bin two. Then I wanted more green compost to keep layering, my goal being to have an empty bin two pretty soon.

Allan helped me pull and clip the spent Geranium ‘Rozanne’ from the driveway garden. You may recall that not long ago it looked like this:

I got in there with my rollator and pulled and also clipped with The Toy.


This bed still shows effects of the heat dome

Wanting still more green compost to layer, I got my rollator in next to the canoe bed and pulled more Rozanne.

My views while I was in there:

The compost bins after layering:

I made it to the Bogsy Wood…

and fretted over thirsty plants that had missed my targeted watering when I was too dizzy to get back there.

Salix magnifica will probably revive…

…and so will this white hydrangea….

…but I am worried that Hydrangea ’Sandra’ may not recover.

Allan briught in the cushions from all the outdoor furniture; all the cushions were given to us by Susie. Skooter was sad to see them go.

Still using the rollator, I managed to pick some beans and tomatoes….

Extra long purple beans on the catio fence

….and dumped some soil from spent peppers and cucumbers into the fish totes, then suddenly I had completely hit the wall. I felt so lightheaded that I had to ask Allan to walk me and the rollator into the house to my chair. I’d been warned not to overdo it. I remembered that I had taken a meclizine in the morning, on the advice of someone who told me he takes one every morning to manage mild dizziness, and it may have masked my symptoms till I plumb wore myself out.

I went to bed before midnight again and the next day, the very rainy day of a delightful inch of rain, I felt very dizzy again and just read a book and was glad of the rain. The clinic called and offered me a choice of cancellation physical therapy appointments, either that very day at noon or Monday. I chose Monday, wanting so much to just sit and read and thinking I might feel better then and get a better workout. As soon as I hung up, I thought I should have taken the immediate one because it might be good for them to see me dizzy! But by then it was too late to change my mind. The next day, Saturday, I felt better, and again it rained almost all day.

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15 Sept: one work day

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Katie’s garden

We went to a small garden that we tidy up a couple of times a year. Three buckets of precious bunny poo awaited us, and there were kittens.

Despite feeling slightly unsteady, I was able to try out my new Root Slayer edger. Allan forgot to get the edging part in his photo, so he added it in later; the tool is longer.

It worked a treat. I had my rollator close by in case I had a bad turn. What haunts me is the four times, a month ago, when I fell, then felt twice like I would fall but grabbed something, then almost fell, all with that horrible spinning lack of control. It hasn’t been that bad for three weeks now, but I’m still scared and still dizzy and don’t know how to build confidence or even have confidence that it won’t happen again.

It does help, mentally, to accomplish some befores and afters, even if Allan did 3/4 of the work.

He tidied up the porch planters from the inside and I reached through the porch railing from below and tidied up from the outside. We both admired the abutilon flowers.

The Red Barn

Because a whole bunch of rain and wind is predicted for Friday, we skipped Diane’s garden…no point in tidying for a stormy weekend…and just watered the planters at the Red Barn Arena. Holly was at the barn and got her biscuit.

The little garden was looking good but didn’t get a photo.

Patti’s garden

Patti wanted us to remove a handmade mostly plastic fountain from the back yard. There were way more river rocks in it than we had expected. We got to take them home. I was able to pull rocks from my rollator and then got down to ground level to pull some more. I need to develop the ability to do crawling around gardening.

We used a red chair to mark the spot till something is done about filing it in.

Stella got her biscuit.

Patti felt the sweet peas were blocking the view of the garden from her porch, and she was right, so I thinned them. I couldn’t bear to pull them but will do so when they get sodden from the storm. It was silly to not just pull them today, though.

Sweet peas and Cosmos ‘Cupcake’, grown from seed.
I was able to deadhead in the garden, partly even daring to work standing up.

Patti went to the hardware store, saying “If you kids are good, I’ll bring you a treat,” and returned with a bag of delicious popcorn.

The Depot Restaurant

Allan deadheaded the Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’…

…and clipped some grasses that had fallen down by the walk into the kitchen.

Susies garden

We just stopped by to pick up some groceries Bill had gotten for us at Costco. As soon as the wall is capped, we will be adding more mulch and more plants. The wall builder is also a fisherman by trade, and his fishing trip is taking longer than expected.

I am well chuffed at the cosmos I grew from seed and penstemons from cuttings.

That’s it for work this week. We are counting on a big rain so not watering at the port and not tidying either, because we doubt there will be many pedestrians this weekend.

At home, we found a beautiful hanging basket waiting for us, a gift from our client, Mary. It really pops in color in the corner that usually has a basket but has lacked one this summer.

I was so exhausted after the little bit of work I did today that I was in bed asleep at 11:30, unheard of till now, and slept for nine hours.

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Allan’s latest adventure

Southwest Washington Paddle Trips

14 September 2021

Seal Slough is a side trip from the Grays River near Rosburg Washington. The first time I paddled this area, I was focused on following the Grays River up from the adjacent Deep River to the iconic Grays River Covered Bridge as I posted here. I made it to Duffy’s Irish Pub but have not had the opportunity to visit Seal Slough until today.

Here is the route from Washington’s most south and west of ports, Ilwaco, to Rosburg’s Community Hall. The second picture is a closer look at Seal Slough’s path north of Grays River.

The quiet Rosburg Community Hall had plenty of parking today.

The launch is adjacent to the Altoona Pillar Rock Road bridge. Driving from here it is ten more miles to visit the ghost town of Altoona and see Pillar Rock. In 1910 Altoona had the fourth largest cannery on the…

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Monday, 13 September 2021

I was thrilled to get a call in the morning that, due to a cancellation, I could have an evaluation by the physical therapist today. The PT I saw, Libby, asked lots of questions, listened to my whole dizziness chronicle, and then performed the Epley Maneuver. She looked as surprised (as you can tell when someone is masked) to hear that my doctor does not believe it works. I wanted to give it a try. It definitely started some spinning feelings, but as she watched my eyes closely, she said there was no nystagmus, or eye jerking, which is a way to diagnose vertigo. I said I wished I could have gotten referred by my doctor earlier because nystagmus was observed in the emergency room and by the nurse I saw for an ear infection a week before this PT appointment.

So the dizziness remains a mystery. I will have follow up appointments for some balance exercises, not until November because of Covid overload delaying ​our medical system, unless I get in on another cancellation. 

I was told to take it easy and not bend over for the next day after the maneuver, so despite nice weather and feeling remarkably balanced for a change, I just read.

Meanwhile, Allan picked some apples…

….and tidied up the J’s garden….

Cupcake and Saucers cosmos at the J Crew Cottage

…and a painted some trim over the garage. The faded yellow paint is left over from the original colors of our manufactured home, an ugly pale brown and yellow.

His first idea was to use cobalt blue….

…but he did not like it, so he went with the dark green which was supposed to be the house color (but it got mixed to a lighter and brighter shade over ten years ago).

With the slightly tilted garage roof, the green is perfect as it lets the arbor stand in for trim.

The book I read was…

…on a subject close to my life. Part memoir and part analysis, its an excellent read and might even convince someone to change their attitude. Here it refers to another book I like:


Great book. Unfortunately, the people I’d most like to read it probably won’t: the friends whose conversation always swings back around to how much weight they want to lose or how much they fear gaining an ounce.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Allan went boating at my insistence. I planned a reading day so as not to get in some sort of pickle outside alone. As it happened, I had a disturbingly dizzy day to where I couldn’t even unload the dishwasher and could barely get a snack, so reading was the best choice. I had a new library book recommended on the Cultivating Place podcast. It is my favorite book of the year; I encourage you to get it. Here are some samples that I loved so much, I felt like my head was floating around the room.







Smallness, fading away quietly, is just the way I see my own life. I have never seen put it into such eloquent words why that appeals so much to me. (I have had some dreams of glory and recognition for my work, I must admit, but other than this blog and compliments from passersby, they never came true.)

Now I have a new favorite writer and am burning to get his next book, which appears to be more specifically about his life as a gardener, expecially one particular job. I am number five on the library wait list and can hardly bear the waiting.

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