Archive for Dec, 2021

Monday, 27 December 2021

At home

Three views from windows and porch; I did not set one foot outside, although I would have if the snow had been picturesquely arranged on branches and twigs.

Skooter had the choice of two boxes in his favorite hangout, Alicia’s patio. He kept a close look on Onyx from next door to the east, who seemed embarrassed to be caught prowling.

I read the first half of a long memoir by Ron Chew, a journalist and historian two years older than me whose reminiscences about growing up in Seattle brought back memories of my childhood. It was so easy to visualize. I remember some things about his life, like his anti discrimination suit against the University of Washington and was eager to read more the next day.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

More window views:

I will be so sad if a tall building takes away my winter view of the band of light on the horizon, something I often see and treasure during staycation.

The clothespin holds netting onto the Catio roof.

From the north window, it looks like my pittosporums and grevillea are surviving the mid 20s nights.

We had a raccoon on the porch after midnight. Faerie growled, and I heard the clanking of pots that are stored there. It (or they) lumbered down the steps when I turned on the light. I closed the exterior sliding door, and saw the footprints the next morning.

I continued to read and finished the 600+ page memoir by the renowned community activist and former director of Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum. His resistance to oppression, his inclusive work and support of intersectional groups and a life dedicated to journalism and education are inspirational.

Some takeaways (there were many) follow.

Do your best to learn stories of your family while you still can.

How Seattle changed:

In years past, on Facebook and in this blog, I have shared a story which I now know has an inaccuracy.

I was told by the previous owners of my old house to the west of the boatyard, that they found “Chinese bowls and opium bottles” when they dug out the pond there. They said was originally the dumping spot for a Chinese dormitory that had been there for Chinese men who worked in fish processing. I was told that racist locals here of the time would say “A fishing Chinese man [but they used a racial slur instead] is a dead Chinese man,” because the good money was in fishing. The men could not bring their families because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which also affected Ronald Chew’s family.

At my former house, an old beam sticking into the pond was said to have been part of the dormitory. The bowls and bottles were donated to the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, where they must be in storage. But now I have learned they probably were not opium bottles at all, and that is the inaccuracy in my story. See:

I enjoyed the many stories about the Wing Luke Museum in the second half of the book. The idea of the tags on clothing in this exhibit made me verklempt:

Of course, I also loved the chapter about Ronald Chew discovering the joys of gardening after he retired from the museum. He wrote about plants and about building a shed retreat, which was written about in the Seattle Times.

I found the article here, but neither Allan nor I can see the photos on iPhone, iPad, or computer. Darn it.

My Unforgotten Seattle would fascinate anyone I know who grew up in Seattle. I am glad I found it.

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Monday, 28 December 2021

Long Beach Peninsula

Our good friend Wendy took these photos on a walk to the beach from her Long Beach home.

Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry
Photo by Wendy Murry

Our friend Nancy of the Depot Restaurant shared this view from her window in Surfside.

Photo by Nancy Gorshe

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26 December: snow day

Sunday, 26 December 2021

At home

The fence project came to a temporary halt.

So far, maybe because it’s a bit windy, the snow (which has kept falling in flakes big and small) has not made a tracery of white on every branches and twig.

Skooter took a walk with Allan from the front door around the garden and then thought about his favorite box on Alicia’s back porch but then decided he would much rather go in the back door.

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Saturday, 25 December 2021

Allan worked on the south fence project, pulling staples out of the wire panels so that they can be reused. Both the winter fence projects, unfortunately, have an awful lot of decontructing before straightforward building, or they would go so much faster.

His hands got painfully cold. If I had realized that he was out of warm winter gloves, I would have give him his Christmas present in the morning.

Future enclosed garden, fence on left is moving ten feet to the right.

He won’t use as many staples when he reconstructs this. A couple of panels that were only lightly stapled have held up just as well.

The three young cats would love to have come into the winter garden with us. Even though I know they have a life of luxury, I think about bringing them out with us…but we are always too busy on a project to keep a close eye on them.

Meanwhile, in cold weather solidarity (it was 40 F and below), I worked on moving my plant sale plants from benches to the ground, which should be safer. This area next to the garage (below) would make a neat lean to greenhouse, and I fantasized about that for awhile till I remembered two things: I have vowed not to ask Allan to build anything for awhile, and I like to see the garden bed there from both sides. I filled up half of this empty aisle so there is no longer a way to walk through the center. Fortunately, we can walk along Alicia’s driveway.

Into the two unheated greenhouses went more propagated plants that might be tender, like hebes and penstemon and also the evergreen plants from cuttings that I am counting on for the new south garden if it turns out I need to create a visual barrier.

I covered part of two Melianthus major (‘Antenow’s Blue’ and one other) with big pots to protect at least a portion of the plant.

I moved my potted alliums into a dark bench in the garage. It felt tedious to have to do it, but on the other hand, I want to rearrange this whole messy area into a proper outdoor potting area, with an open center surrounded by tables, and the plants have to be moved in order to accomplish that.

Needs a major re-org!
Safe in the garage.

I covered part of my big gunnera with the pond form that we got from Patti.

I used a bag of wool from Purly Shell to mulch my three Salvia ‘Amistad’ in the back garden and the Big Melianthus major in the front garden.

The oyster basket is over a pot that is over a canna.
Black and white wool on Melianthus major.

How very much I was hoping for a mild winter!

I still have fuchsias blooming…

…and roses…

…and the totally non-stop Geum ‘Totally Tangerine…

…and a grevillea.

Non flowering vignettes can also look great.

I am glad I have done almost no cutting back. The old foliage will help to protect the plants.

As I walked back to see how Allan was doing, I was distracted by worries about my scheffleras and returned to the leaf mold bin and gathered the last of the leaves to put on the beds. So much for leaf mold this year. Due to vertigo, I didn’t gather as many leaves as usual.

Ann Wareham just wrote this good piece which questions the need for making leaf mold (and edging lawns). Even though I like making leaf mold to use in pots because it makes me feel accomplished and industrious, the leaves will decompose in place just fine.

At about three thirty, some snow flurries arrived. If we get snow, and it sticks and lasts for several days through the cold, my mulching will have been unnecessary.

Snowy and so cold.

My last outdoor thing was to pick a pitiful harvest of Swiss chard and collards and Kosmic Kale, with some calendula for garnish. I missed the August planting season for autumn because of vertigo, and I misplaced a box of winter greens seeds to boot. The winter garden is a bust this year. We might each get a mouthful. Fortunately, we have some frozen spinach to mix it with.

I missed out on one Christmas celebration that I’d been looking forward to. My friend for over fifty years, Roberta, sent me and Montana Mary (also a friend since 1967) this lovely card with a tea bag in it. I got mixed up on how to figure the time difference between Montana and Arizona and thought teatime was 4:30 …but it was 2:30. At least I was thinking of the both of them while I was out mulching. It wasn’t even a zoom meeting, just a quiet time to think of each other. Here are Mary, Roberta, and another friend, Jan, having tea (and spaghetti with the finest Parmesan) at my house in Seattle in 1979.

This year, Allan and I have postponed any sign of Christmas till now, 7 PM Christmas Day. Allan has made a pumpkin pie and we will finally open some presents.


Some Idaho wine and chocolates from the J Crew…so I had the great treat of wine with the good Christmas dinner Allan made (followed by his pumpkin pie.)

A book from Mary and Denny, ethical chocolate from Our Kathleen, a mystery and chocolate teddy bears from Montana Mary

Allan got me a hedgehog from local crafter Blaine Gunkel. Others like it are available at BOLD’s art gallery in north Long Beach. Otherwise, we exchanged practical gifts: shoes, jeans, warm winter gloves.

Also from Our Kathleen, the many delights of a Universal Yums Christmas box!

I said to Allan that since we are going back to work for Long Beach, we could afford to re-up for a heat of Yums!

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Friday, 24 December 2021

At home

We didn’t get out to the willow grove till afternoon. I moved three piles of branches to either the firewood area or up against the east fence as a stop the eye measure.

One of three piles, the biggest.
Branches moved. Old fence is on the left.

I tied the branches in with one of the many coils of fishing rope that we found when clearing the willow grove in winter of 2010-11. That, our first winter in this house, was one of unrelenting projects, as was the following winter of building the deer fence. This winter is shaping up to be the same, which is regrettable. I hope Allan feels as accomplished about both fences as he should. The back one may not be as visible for admiration except for people touring the garden, but it will enclose something like about 800 square feet of enclosed garden, for which I have big plans.

Although the tires next door are not hidden., they will be, as there is plenty of room to drop more branches in. Then some shrubs will grow up in the garden bed (for which I don’t have enough soil at the moment) and the wood will eventually be cut into firewood.

I had a big plan of weaving the rope all fancy-like. With one very long length of stiff rope, it was just too difficult and I was running out of daylight. I tell myself that this will make it easier to remove the wood when the future shrubs grow up.

Me for scale
The long view, looking east to the gear shed. Buckets are for putting sand when digging post holes.

Meanwhile, Allan measured the wire panels in the old fence so he’d know how far apart to set the posts in order to be able to reuse the wire panels. Some of the panels are pretty long. One that is long enough to wrap up the west end will have to be interrupted for a gate. I wish it were not so, but gates are mighty handy.

I decided that this might be a new path from the willow grove into the Bogsy Wood, instead of the path I thought of earlier which would have barged through the wayback sit spot.

I wish we could celebrate with Christmas Eve “Dickens dinner” at the Depot Restaurant with Our Kathleen. It’s the tradition I miss most. Mary and Denny dined there in person, but I am not so brave with Omicron floating around. Don’t want to get sick while in the midst of projects! Kathleen got a take out dinner, and we could have, were it not that to me restaurant ambience is everything. I have not been able to track down the origin of this quotation that I found somewhere but…

Restaurants. I love restaurants. To eat in one is not nearly as important as just to be in one. We are all projectiles in lightless, airless space, hurtling from restaurant to restaurant.

It has been almost two years since we dined out, and I’m having the pandemic blues. However, the HDCLUMP website does have the Gardeners’ World Christmas special that we can watch tonight, so mustn’t grumble!

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But first…email subscribers got a post in the wrong order when I accidentally published. I’ve reset it, so you might end up having a sense of deja vu. It wasn’t proofread, either! Therefore, I’m publishing this one 12 hours early to explain the error. Now, on with some December reading news.

Weeds, by Richard Mabley

Thank you to the blog reader or Facebook friend who recommended this most excellent book.

My favorite takeaways begin with what poet John Clare wrote about “stoop labor”. I guess you could say that stoop labor is my life.

What John Clare wrote about the enclosure of English land for the benefit of wealthy landowners and the resulting destruction of wild places resonated with me. It is just how I feel about the potential destruction of Frogland, the seasonal wetland to the south of our garden.

I looked up more of the poem because it spoke so strongly to me of Frogland, and of the birds who nest there, too.

… Ye fields, ye scenes so dear to Lubin’s eye,
Ye meadow-blooms, ye pasture-flowers, farewel!
Ye banish’d trees, ye make me deeply sigh,–
Inclosure came, and all your glories fell:

… And oft with shepherds he would sit, to sigh
O’er past delights of many a by-gone day,
And look on scenes now naked to the eye,
And talk as how they once were clothed gay;
And how the runnel wound its weedy way,
And how the willows on its margin grew;
Talk o’er with them the rural feats of May,–
Who got the blossoms ‘neath the morning dew
That the last garland made, and where such Blossoms grew:

… O samely naked leas, so bleak, so strange!
How would he wander o’er ye to complain,
And sigh, and wish he ne’er had known the change,
To see the ploughshare bury all the plain,
And not a cowslip on its lap remain;
The rush-tuft gone that hid the skylark’s nest;
Ah, when will May-morn hear such strains again;
The storms beat chilly on its naked breast,
No shelter grows to shield, no home invites to rest.

I have made an interlibrary loan order for the book The World My Wilderness by Rose McCauley, about her explorations (with another author I love, Penelope Fitzgerald!) of nature in London’s bomb craters of World War II.

There is a lovely page or two about lesser celandine, which I will save for when I have to confess that I am unable to eliminate it from my garden no matter how hard I try.

I wish I had saved the passage about how deep and wide bindweed roots go, to maybe share with my neighbor from whose yard it has crept into mine. It was coming from both sides, but now that we mow Alicia’s lawn it has been eliminated from that side, and Weeds confirms that mowing is about the only way to win over it.

I learned a great deal about the value of weeds, for example…

The passage below is by Sydney Smith:

Below, this was tremendously moving to me about soldiers in trenches in World War II.

Weeds is educational, poetic, revelatory and fascinating. It delighted me. Thank you again to the person…I wish I could remember who…who suggested it to me.

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Thursday, 23 December 2021

At home

A rainbow from the north window greeted me when I opened the curtains.

We’d had rain, thunder, lightning and wind yesterday and last night.

I moved more plants into the greenhouse because of the predicted 23F nights coming up. I could put more in on the floor. And just might.

We got to work on the south fence project, meaning Allan doing the carpentry and me clearing the way. The grass path makes for a soggy walk out there.

View in from the gear shed side, looking west:

Fence to the right of the photo is getting moved south, except for the section with shutters.

I realized the section decorated with shutters would keep the deer out without a wire panel and, because the panel had a seam where one section joined the next at the first inner post, suggested to Allan it be peeled back and used to fill the first new east side fence expansion. I moved a log pile to make room (second time I’ve moved it since we started this project).

Allan sawed a big trunk that was in the way of the east fence. Sometimes we really need a big chain saw (that we do not have; neither of us want to use one).

My long ago partner Bryan’s brother had an accident of a chainsaw kicking back at his face that earned him the nickname “Chainsaw Runnings”. True, he was using a chainsaw to cut a skylight in his house at the time. But I digress. Allan got the trunk cut and pried out.

Allan successfully peeled back the wire panel, which is good news as we are going to try to re use all the wire panels from the existing south fence.

Not worms, those are the staples he pulled to move the wire.

Meanwhile, I used the small chain saw and the great little Corona hand saw to cut some willow branches that would get in the way as the south stretch of the fence gets built. I gave up on the big trunk, below, that was our willow arch till the surveyors pushed it down too low. But if it comes out, there will be much less of a tangle to build around.

This is after I’d cut some smaller ones to make the way clear.

I finally took the time to cut to the ground all of the salmonberry stems that the surveyors had hacked and uglified (on our property). Now I won’t get so steamed every time I am out there. The same went for willow branches on our willows that they hacked with no thoughtfulness or design skill.

All of the holly that I cut to the ground last spring is back, of course, and some of it is outside the fence so it won’t be my problem.

I brooded over the eighty years old (at least!) frog habitat where the river shore used to be…

…where water gathers for six months and the spring peepers sing their loud chorus and then the tadpoles swim…

…and I hoped it would be preserved if the sports building is built, because to build a facility for youth by destroying frog homes seems contradictory to me. Kids love frogs, don’t they? What child wouldn’t want to save their home? The building one block east was constructed with a deep ditch next to it which still provides frog habitat.

The meander line ditch was preserved by the community college building one block east:

But the plans for the new building show it plopped down right on top of frogland.

Denny and Mary came for a holiday gift exchange. I showed them where they could come round with their vehicle near the gear shed to see what we were doing on the south end. They were impressed with Allans work on the front fence, finished, and the back, just begun.

When I ran out of pruning, I went to the house and the leaf mold pile and moved three wheelbarrows full of leaves to the front garden to mulch three Melianthus and the plants that I had shifted around the east front garden all too recently.

Allan remained on the fence project, inspected by Skooter, till dark and got the east side done.

Wire of different heights went into this furthest corner…because that is what we have on hand.
It’s different.

Next workable weather day, while Allan runs the fence along the south, I’ll have a project of making a stop the eye feature on the east end with some branches. I look forward to it.

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Wednesday, 22 December 2021

At home

It was an indoor reading day for us because of wind and rain and thunder and lightning. Skooter, who rarely takes a completely indoor day, spent most of his time in his favorite box on Alicia’s back porch.

Anne Nixon, who gave Skooter his first of three homes, shared these photos:

“Skooter, the computer whiz” photo by Anne Nixon
Photo by Anne Nixon

I finished Spirit of Place: The Making of a New England Garden by Bill Noble and ended up with a new list of must have plants:

Denainthe caerula*

Cornus sericea ‘Silver and Gold’

Glaucidium palmatum

Meconopsis lingholm*

Salix eleagnus angustifolia

Salix fargessi

Rhamnus frangula asplenifolia

Salix sacchalinensis

Lonicera prolifera. Silvery with great flowers

That is but a partial list. I photographed paragraphs from the chapter about rock gardening and stone troughs.

I then indulged in a gripping novel, mostly set in two tourist towns, one back east and one in Moclips, on the Washington Coast, which is why I read it. Promise me the setting of an old motel on the coast, and I will read it! While sometimes tourists are lovely, and I remember being a (I am pretty sure not annoying) tourist myself, the author grasps the downside of the tourism-based economy well.

I used to buy Explorateur cheese at Seattle’s Pike Place Market but have never had it served to me in a restaurant. It was delicious. I haven’t had it for over thirty years.

As for the summer homes which are only used for a short while out of the year…

…reminiscing about the old days when the homes were lived in by locals. I’m not sure that was ever true on the Long Beach Peninsula, which has a century plus tradition of summer homes.

Much as I’d like more reading days, I’d also like to get the south fence done and off my mind (and Allan, the builder!)! And I must move more plants into the greenhouse tomorrow because the weather forecast is for three nights next week with temperatures into the low 20s F.

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Tuesday, 21 December 2021

But first…

We were up at eight because I had a teeth cleaning appointment. I’d cancelled all such appointments during the pandemic but had finally made one during that sweet spot right after getting the booster, and then came Omicron. I kept the appointment, anyway. When one is considering getting a knee replacement one of these years, one has to keep one’s gums in order.

I saw through my south window the beautiful white light on the horizon that is often a winter feature, and that I would miss terribly if a huge building blocked the horizon. Please excuse my horrible window. Allan taped the window screen so it wouldn’t fray more, but I really must get that tape off and let it fray.

He went out to try to capture that horizon light from outside.

While I was at the dentist, Allan ran an errand to the bank and then fished some debris out of the Long Beach welcome sign…

…and then observed, through the van window, a bird eating berries by Dr. Tynkila’s office.

We had a look at the beach approach…

…went to the Planter Box where we bought some bark and I pondered conifers…

…and stopped by the cute cottage of Our Kathleen to exchange gifts.

At home

Just as we arrived home at noon, Scott and Tony stopped by and we had a socially distanced visit and front fence admiration session.

We then got back to work on the south fence, which means that Allan works on the carpentry aspect and I work on the garden aspect. My mission was to make a path with bark heading east through the muddy slippery area. It took all ten bags, but is possibly wider than necessary. I usually do not make bark paths, but in this winter slippery mud it really helped a lot.

For the very first time ever, we used the easement alley, among the gear shed crab pots, to park and load bagged amendments into our SE corner.

A path into our garden from the south east
Looking south from the center of the area we are fencing in, which has standing water from October sometimes till as late as May.

We worked till dusk. Allan set two more posts, still working in an area of hard wet digging. It was pointed out to us that there’s more water when we dig a hole at high tide, which is so true, and brings home the wetland nature of the port property to our south. It used to be part of the Columbia River and our property line was riverfront.

I finished the section of path that I’d had in mind, digging through a mound to make it more level to the corner gate.

The old fence, which will be moved about ten feet south, is on the left above.

The old fence will be deconstructed and parts of it will make the new fence. Allan has an idea of how to do it without making the garden open to deer and bears during the process. The corner sit spot will keep its shuttered fence panel to create a little nook but with a path going into the nook behind where the left red bucket is sitting (with that panel removed). (That might be as clear as slippery winter mud, but it will make sense when it is done.)

It is all quite exciting and made possible by the survey, making up a very tiny bit for the rude behavior of the surveyors chopping shrubbery on our property.

Allan took some photos of the two additional posts as he gathered tools together at sunset.

Our view of the lights from the port

We were surprised that we had workable weather today. I’d love if it would continue. I have decided tonight that I must cancel and reschedule my echocardiogram that was supposed to be next Monday. Snow and ice is predicted and there is no way I’m willing to cross the bridge to Astoria in that!

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20 December: rain

Monday, 20 December 2021

At home

I lazily asked Allan to take some photos of the rain. He went out in his slippers and came back with this much.

The accurate rain gauge
The rain gauge I broke when carrying rocks

Skooter’s nest on Alicia’s back porch, next door:

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