Archive for the ‘Ginger’s Garden Diaries’ Category


This is the last of the monthly publications of my mother’s diaries.  I feel sad to come to the end of them.

I make a big deal about her age, even though it is only ten years older than I am now.  My younger friends seem impressed at how much an old woman can accomplish!

You can read more of her story here (childhood), and here (in the 1940s).

I have revised my thinking; I believe only one of four journals in missing.

Three of four of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  When these diaries began, she and my dad, Bruce, lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a 10,500 lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  Because he was 8 years older, she was able to retire at age 55 in 1979.  (Bruce died in June, 1995.)  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden, strawberry rows, and apple trees.  My comments are in brackets.

1995 (age 71):

Dec 1: I planned on cutting Rhody branches but it was cold.  Got rained in to porch where I divided the wild ??  I planted one large clump in PBB [Patio Bulb Bed] and then later (in house) I potted these plants and put a lot of stems in water to root.  Planted the 5 amaryllis in pots for house plants.

Dec 4: 11:45-4:45  I really got some work done today.  I brought 2 loads of wood up to porch, cut some kindling, planted the 4 Strawberry Shortcake in one of the tall terracotta pots, spread straw over most of the flower beds, especially the Tam area [formerly a bed of juniper tams, now a flower bed by the roadside], also tossed a lot of shredded leaves etc on top of the straw, cut more of Rhody leaves off the branches.

Dec 5:  Hard freeze overnight—too cold to work outside.  I spent money by ordering from 3 catalogs.

Dec 6: Another cold night and day but I need some firewood.  I used the electric chain saw on a few pieces.  It worked fairly easy except the pieces would bounce around on the chopping block.

Dec 7:  I finished trimming the leaves off the Rhody that we cut down [when we visited her in late November.  It had been badly pruned and was all distorted so we took it down low so it would resprout in a better shape].  I piled them up in the old compost heap.  I could have added the branches as extra mulch but it was too cold to stay out long enough to do it.

Dec 12:  Windstorm 95  Lots of branches flung around.  Large tree fell across the road just grazing the window of the cabin.  [Peak gust in nearby Olympia of 57 mph]


Dec 13: Lots and lots of branches all over.  It was too rainy to do anything outside.

Dec 14: I started to straighten out the mess on the desk when the sun came out so I went out and raked branches from all over, even out on the road.  I piled them along the garage to wait until someone comes to help me.  Oh Robert, are you listening. [Robert was my spouse at the time.  We lived three hours away.  After she moved here, we did lots of firewood piling for her.]

Dec 15:  11:00-4:00 I dug all the wood out of the wood box and got it all chopped or sawed into sizes for stove.  Much of it was pretty wet.  My next job will be to take the rest of the wood from the pile and put it into the box.  Then order more wood from some other place.

The power went out just when I was ready to use the chain saw so while I waited, I planted all the rest of the mums into the garden.  Also I took the leaves and needles that Robert cleaned off the roof and I had him dump in raspberry row.  I moved it to the old compost box on top of the Rhody branches.  I hope it will help decompose those branches and leaves.  I have to find out what kind of oil the electric chainsaw needs before I burn it up.

Dec 18:  I checked the begonias and dahlias in shop—cleaned soil off them etc.  Now I’ll have to find out how to store them for the winter.


illustration by Marcie Hawthorne

Dec 20:  12:00-4:00  I got most of wood out of pile and using electric chainsaw to cut them in half.  Then the big axe to cut into pieces (the ones I couldn’t cut I left to burn as one piece).  Then small axe to cut what I could into kindling.  Then I threw the pieces into the wood box.

Dec 21:  The wood I got is too wet to keep a decent fire going.  I think I may order the McKenna wood—4 cords for $400!  On their answering machine they say their wood is two years dry and clean, ready to burn.

Rec’d a package from Skyler and Robert—a nice book, “Gardening from the Heart.”


[one of my favourite gardening books of all time]

Dec 23: Spent most of the day looking through my stuff in various boxes looking for the order form for the Potters Barn.  Of course, I had to stop and read everything.

Dec 25: Spent several hours packing Bruce’s clothes into boxes—approx 75 shirts and 30+ slacks, suits, jackets, PJs, shoes.  I’ll call Senior Center to see if they will accept these clothes for the thrift shop.  This will be another step towards accepting my life without Bruce as hard as that is. [Her husband had died in June of 1995.]

Dec 27:  The power was out all day till about 6:00 PM.  It got cold in here.  It would help if my firewood was dry!  I had to disconnect alarm system as it was growling.

Dec 28:  Called Senior Center re someone to come after clothes for their thrift shop.  The boxes (2) are too heavy for me to get them into car.  15 boxes altogether.  They will call back.  (He never did.)

Dec 29:  Potelco came by to run a new telephone wire—but decided to wait till Tuesday.  I called Sears re the garage door opener.  Repairman will come next Tuesday.

Dec 30: Today I ordered from McKenna Wood Yard 4 cords of (supposed to be) dry wood.  I’ll have a job stacking it but it should last maybe for a year.  That will be good.

I’m still working on my inventory of flower seeds.  I don’t think I’ll need to order many.

Dec 31:  I managed to get all 15 boxes of Bruce’s clothes into the car.  On Tuesday, I’ll call the Senior Center to see if there is someone who can take them for their thrift store.

This is the end of a terrible year.  I still miss him so much. Maybe when winter is over it will be better.  I am getting along better than I ever thought I would.  Being able to drive has helped a lot.  Now I need a cat for companionship.

[She did get an adult cat named Tabby and had her till Tabby passed away from old age in about 2008.  I am proud of mom for how well she managed after dad died.  She told me that she had only lived alone for one two week period of her whole life before then.]


illustration by Frank Fretz

1997 (age 73):

Dec 1:  12:30-4:00  The sun was out but by the time I went out it was dry but gray.  I emptied all the tubs, containers, etc.  I emptied each one in the wheelbarrow so I was able to check for lost spring bulbs, containers, etc.  I was really surprised at the number of good bulbs,  Now I have to plant them somewhere in front; they are all low plants.  I’ll plant new ones in the containers ASAP.  I washed all the pots w/hose and got really wet.  I rewrapped pipe with insulated foil covered by plastic.

Dec 2 (Tuesday): 2:30-4:00  On Monday, I went to bed at 12:00.  Got up at 1:30 and read til 3:00.  At 6 AM I figured out I had forgotten to take my Amitriptyline and Excedrin PM so I took them and went to sleep after daylight and slept soundly until 12:30 so I guess the pills do help.  I’ll have to started taking them at 10:00 PM.

Worked in Tam area pruning and raking leaves. [Tam area was former big entry bed of Juniper tams, dug up and replaced with perennials.]

Dec 3:  Dental appt—got the $750 crown glued in.

Dec 4: Hard freeze.  Started planting bulbs in various containers.  I used the soil from last year’s containers plus mushroom compost.  I have only about a dozen left to plant.

Dec 5: Too cold to work outside.  Hard freeze again so I left the water dripping in the shop, the lamp lit by the water pipe and turned the heater on in the shop [large two room outbuilding where my dad had had his tools and toy trains] although I am afraid of it.  The soil in all the containers is frozen hard.  I hope my bulbs aren’t frozen but all the containers came through last winter’s cold.

Dec 6: What a mess!  I went out to get a can of cranberry sauce and found that a dozen or so cans of pop had frozen in the shop refrigerator and the cans had exploded and sprayed coke etc all over the inside of the refrigerator!  I removed all cans from fridge—many frozen so I put them in sunk.

Dec 7:  I took everything out of refrig freezer, threw some stuff away and managed to put it all in the chest freezer and house freezer.  Moved all cans of pop into big shop room behind door so they’re not next to outer wall.  The refrig control is stuck and I don’t know where it’s plugged in so I can’t turn it off.

Dec 8: Sunny and cool  I only worked about 1 1/2 hours raking leaves in my lower driveway until I got rained in.  The dry leaves from Wilsons [neighbors across the road] sure were a lot easier to rake than my wet ones were today.  I emptied all the cans that sprayed all over the shop refrigerator and put them out to recycle.  I tried that blower thing to blow leaves but it wouldn’t work.

Dec 9: Read Readers Digest—nuff said.

Dec 10: Letter from Skyler—they plan on coming on the 18th.  So I better get some work done outside.  I raked the path in front of the house and finished the lower driveway.  I moved “Robert’s” boxes to the NW corner of the garage and moved my garden stuff boxes along front half east side—to be sorted “sometime”.  All bags of leaves are now by garage back door.  There must be at least 25!


Dec 11:  Stayed in today to remove all the stuff out of “guest” bedroom.  Also removed stuff from my room that belongs in shop or greenhouse.  I ended up with boxes and boxes by the front door which I’ll do tomorrow.

Dec 12:  Cool—dry  Took all those boxes to shop.  I took all the begonia bulbs from baskets.  Also cleaned up the upright bulbs.  I took the trunks and boxes off the table and now have a dozen or so trays of bulbs—I covered them so they won’t freeze.  It’s been so cold at night I’ve turned wall heater on although I am afraid of it.  I dumped soil from baskets on the compost box.


Dec 13: 12:00-3:00  I had several jobs scheduled for today but I brought up a huge amount of wood to the porch filling all wood boxes and the rack.  I’m going to have to start using the wood behind the shop to allow the small pieces (from the branches) to last longer.  I’m sure I’ll have to order more wood.  I picked up the big rocks out of Tam area and ditch.  Then I quit and went inside exhausted.  But I made up a grocery list and went to the store to get things for good meals with S&R are here.  It was dark when I got home.  I don’t like driving in the dark!

Dec 15:  Skyler and Robert arrived around 5:00—she to do “spring” housecleaning and he to do all sorts of things.  Tabby is staying in the bedroom.  We put the upright vacuum in doorway to keep Bertie out.  [That would be Bertie Woofter, our black labrador, who would not hurt a cat, as we had cats, but Tabby was scared.  Robert used to say later of visiting my mom’s double wide with its dark walls, dark vinyl floors and dark gold carpet, “It’s like living in a big hush puppy shoe.”]

Dec 17: We started shredding the dry leaves and there wasn’t much difference when they came out.  However, the huge pile of stuff was just too wet to shred.  We picked out branches etc but the leaves, weeds, etc just jammed the machine.  I bagged some and I think I’ll toss the rest over the garden to be tilled in next spring.

Dec 18:  S&R took me to the new Chinese Wok for dinner.  Delicious sweet and sour pork and prawns.

More cleaning and jobs done.


illustration by Frank Fretz

Dec 19: S&R packed up the chipper/shredder, Mantis Tiller, and lots of other stuff in their 2 wheel trailer and left about 11:00.  I finally got them on phone at about 8:00 AM.  They had broken down between Tenino and Bucoda and ended up having to be towed to Ilwaco.  For $450.00!  [When our lemon of a used van died on the way home, we found that the Bucoda auto repair place was closing for Christmas and couldn’t help for a week.]  I’m glad I gave them an extra $1000 plus Xmas check.  So far their 10 year old Plymouth Voyager has cost them about $5000.

I found out there is an on-off switch on the phone which is why I’m not getting any incoming calls.  The switch was in the off position.

Dec 22:  New dishwasher installed—over $500.  I wouldn’t have bothered with it except if sell the house it should have one.  The man said I should use the powdered D/W soap, at least in the compartment for the second wash.  That is very surprising.

I brought a lot of larger pieces of wood from behind the shop so I wouldn’t be using the smaller pieces up.

Dec 23:  Spent afternoon working on houseplants.  I even threw out a few violets.  I put hanging baskets back up.  Moved 7 shelf thing over by drop leaf table so I could move new white plant tower back near Norfolk Pine so it wouldn’t be apt to tip over when I turn lights on in the Floralight.

meuble néon à plantes.JPG


Dec 24: I trimmed back two large Wandering Jews (I think) so now I have 8 or 10 glasses of stems in water to root and make more plants.  The woman and daughter Lisa and Tunisa who are renting the shack across the street brought me a tin of cookies.  Lisa and Tunisa and Black and very nice.  MaryAnne and Walt brought me some candy, cookies, etc.

Dec 25:  The Huskies won the Aloha Bowl.  Skyler called.  She is frustrated because Robert has spent three days trying to fix their van and bought a carburetor which turned out not to be the problem.  She wants him to do to work on jobs he has to do and have a mechanic do the work on the car.  I feel for her because I can remember many times we had car trouble.  I’m tempted to give them more money to get a good truck but I’d better not—I need to save some for future health care. [Finally Robert agreed to take the van to an auto shop; two shops failed to fix it.  At last the Christmas holidays were over and Box K Auto Repair re-opened and had it fixed perfectly in one day; the problem has been a “pinhole in the distributor cap’ causing an electrical spark that was shorting things out (something like that).  I hope that we made it all up to mom with ten years of helping her out after she moved here.]

Dec 27:  The guy down the street had wood from a tree they cut down and he offered me half of it for $40.  They (including Bob and Allen Wilson) brought it over and filled wood box and piled some behind the house.  I paid him $20 cash and $20 check (I kept $10 cash).  Later at 9:30 he called to say he couldn’t get to a bank so I told him to come over and I gave him $10.00 bill and $10 in quarters so he can go buy some food.  He is nice but sort of ratty looking.  I didn’t have any way of judging the amount of wood so I don’t know if I got a good deal or not, but I guess I helped them out some.


illustration by Frank Fretz

Dec 29:  Made dental appt for next week—the “patches” came off my two front teeth.  Went to QFC to get copy of one order so I can return it.  Pd electric bill.  Went to bank.  I called Penney’s Custom Decorating—things made to order.  I’m sure I don’t want to spend what they will be but made an appt for the woman to come on Monday.  At least I can get some ideas (and measurements) from her.

Dec 30:  Went to post office to mail package to Skyler plus two returns.  Did paperwork, some filing.  Ordered more crossword puzzles.  I need to sort some of the “stuff” sitting ar0und (or hide some of it) so the place won’t look so “junky” when the Penneys woman comes next Monday.  It was a beautiful day and I wish I had done out to do some yard work.

1998 (age 74):

Dec 1:  Store and errand day.  Telephone co, Tim’s, Rite Aid and QFC


Dec 2:  Slept till 11:00.  The sun was out when I got up but it started raining so I stayed in.  I took care of the ripe tomatoes (froze 2 pkgs).  There is only one tray of tomatoes left.

Dec 3: The sun was out so out I went.  I cut back a lot of stuff in the flower beds.  Then I carried all the rest of the old wood from behind the shop.  It was hard to pile the wood as it’s in such odd pieces.  A lot of it is wet so I’ll bring it in 2 or 3 pieces to dry while I continue to burn the wood from the shed.

Dec 4:  11:30-7:00  6 qts of apple slices.  That takes care of the last two pails of apples.  Tomorrow I’ll sort through the tall bucket of scabby apples.  I’m sure some of them have spoiled.  I will use them as my “oatmeal apples w/raisins”.  I may make an apple cobbler with some.  But no more canning.

Dec 5:  Another busy day inside although the sun was shining part of the time.  I hung the Johnston plaque [reproduction of her surname coat of arms] left of the stove and moved the copper horse head picture in the dining room.  I cleaned up the utility sink area and finally got the begonias into individual pots—under the lights in the bathroom.  Washed about 30 pairs of gloves, washed my sheets.

Next week:

  • Finish planting container bulbs
  • Cut back stuff in UBW [Upper Bed West]
  • Move goat’s beard
  • Rake up fallen branches

Dec 7: RAINY DAY  I puttered in the house—not my usual busy Monday.  I actually folded the clothes from three washings.  Did some paper work.  Wrote a long letter to Skyler.  I even straightened out the kitchen junk drawer.

Dec 8:  I finally finished planting the Dutch Gardens bulbs. I ran out of containers so I planted some in various flower beds.  I shoveled a lot of compost soil onto the “new” box covering the huge pile of apple peelings etc then covered it with a tarp and put boards on the tarp.  I ran out of very early spring bulbs for the top layer in some of the containers.  I’ll try Gordon’s.


Dec 9: I brought wood in from shed and the vinyl in from the garage so it won’t mildew.  I noticed some rotten apples in the basket.  I poured them out so I can see how they are.  I threw out about 15 or 20 rotten ones and peeled some half bad ones.  I also noticed the last 6 or 8 of the 20# of potatoes were beginning to sprout so I ended up with 2 trays of potatoes and 4 trays of apples to dry.  The rest of the apples will be for my oatmeal.

Next week:

  • Start seed inventory
  • Rake upper driveway and patio area
  • Clean up shop and put bulbs in peat moss

Dec 10:  Today marks the end of my food preparation—the last 2 trays of apples are almost dry.  I took my filled jars of apples and tomatoes out to the shop and also took out the clean jars.  I’ll keep them in the shop not the garage.  I put all the canning equipment away.  Then I got the Pinetree catalog and the Reader’s Digest and Organic Gardening.  Nuff said.


Dec 11: Last evening I organized all my seeds—next will be to  inventory them before going through the new catalogs.

Dec 12: I started my inventory of veggie seeds and got about half of the flower seeds listed.

Dec 13: For the first time ever I finished the Sunday crossword puzzle, all correct, too.

Dec 14:  Not my usual busy Monday but I did finish the listing of flower seeds (10 pages).  Now I can go thr0ugh the Pinetree catalog to mark seeds I want but I’ll wait for the new Park Seed catalog before ordering any.  Also I picked up about 1/3 of a pail of pretty good apples.  Surprised.

Dec 15: Noon-5:00  I had a list of things to do in the house but it was a beautiful sunny day so I went outside and finished cutting back plants in front.  I moved the Goat’s Beard plant from UBW [Upper Bed West] to the UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed]. I used the chain saw to cut down the Lavatera and was able to dig out most of the roots.  I cleaned up the patio and used the leaves to mulch the various pots.  Then I brought in some wood.


illustration by Carol Inouye


Dec 16:  I got the Park Seed catalog so I started marking the catalog to show which ones are on my inventory list.  I’ll make up the Pinetree order first because they are the cheapest.

Dec 17:  I had to go to Tim’s for my other prescriptions.  Gordon’s had one ad for crocus so I went to get some for the top layer of several tubs but they had no crocus left so I guess I’ll plant seeds as the top layer.  I peeled the last of my tomatoes and took care of the squash I got at QFC.

Dec 18:  COLD  I started going through my violets, removing dead leaves and some to put in water to root.  I repotted several.  I separated the strawberry begona and ended up with 8 plants.  I turned on the light shining on the water pipes in the shop and left the water dripping.

Dec 19:  COLDER  More of the same.  I got through all of the violets but didn’t put all the potted plants back because I need to vacuum up the leaves etc on the rug in that corner.

Dec 21: MUCH COLDER  When I checked the shop I saw the water pipe and drain were frozen (again).  I got ahold of Mt Rainier Plumbing and their man (Ed) came over.  He thawed the pipes and I told him I don’t really need the water in the shop so he shut it off and opened the faucet.  I brought in all my canned food and 2 liter pop (some of the beans had ice crystals).  I tossed a lot more old beans and beets out.  [She canned like mad but could not keep up on eating the results.  Her canned beans were delicious and I ate many jars full over the years.]  I worked until 9:30 finding places to put the jars.

Dec 22:  It was cold today. I had a mess of stuff to clean up in the kitchen.  I tossed more jars of beets and 2 tomatoes that had spoiled (pint jars).  I emptied 2 pails into the compost.  The hot and cold handles in the shop were stuck again but since the water is shut off I didn’t do anything.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll pour some boiling water over them.  I’ll soon have to bring more wood in.

Dec 23: BRRRRRR 24 degrees high, 3 degrees low.  I spent all day preparing my seed orders to Park Seed and Pinetree Seeds, total of $395.28.  This year I concentrated on low annuals to plant in containers.  I didn’t order many perennials as this may be my last spring and summer here.  [Indeed, by June 1999 she had moved to Long Beach.]

Dec 28: Again I didn’t do my usual busy Monday chores.  I just puttered inside, paid some bills and ordered stuff from 2 or 3 catalogs.


illustration by Carol Inouye

Dec 29: Ditto  I still haven’t finished going through my houseplants—maybe tomorrow.

Dec 30:  Finally did some work.  I brought wood into house.  Also started cleaning the area around the wood rack.  Allen came over and helped for awhile.  I brought some more wood to the porch.  Then I started on the houseplants—threw a couple away, repotted some and rearranged the plants.  Tried vacuuming until the vac conked out.  I ran out of space before I ran out of plants.

Coming to the end of these diaries is like saying goodbye to my mom (something I did not actually do because her death, in 2010, was sudden).  I hope you have enjoyed them.

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Three of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  When these diaries began, she and my dad, Bruce, lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a 10,500 lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  Because he was 8 years older, she was able to retire at age 55 in 1979.  (Bruce died in June, 1995.)  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden, strawberry rows, and apple trees.  My comments are in brackets.

1995 (age 71):

Nov 1:  Probate [from Dad’s death in June] completed per attorney.  Spent this afternoon digging dahlias tubers from Tam area [former juniper tam bed, now flowers, by the roadside].  Received Wayside and Spring Hill orders mostly perennials and some bulbs on Wayside order.  The shop [large two room outbuilding] was plenty warm this AM so I turned the heat off for the day.

Nov 2: 12:30-5:00 40 degrees  All afternoon planting new Wayside perennial plants in corn patch and mulched whole area with straw.  Emptied boiler for firewood [a big copper boiler next to the woodstove that she used as a planter outside in summer].  Planted pansy plants in 3 “window boxes” [window boxes not attached to the window as that is hard to do on an old double wide manufactured home].  I didn’t get back to the job of digging dahlias.  I may need to buy more straw to mulch in front.

Nov 3:  Finished digging dahlias.  Cut down lily stalks in UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed] and PBB [Patio Back Bed??]  Drove around Yelm paying bills, bank, Payless, Stock Market, and Gordon’s.  Bought 16 more pansies and more perennials.


Nov 4:  Planted Gordon’s perennials in garden.  Cut back lots of plants in WPFB [West Patio Flower Bed?] leaving a big pile to pick up for shredding if Robert can turn the machine on.  Planted more pansies in my boxes.

Nov 5 (Sunday): Day off

Nov 6: 10:30 AM-3:00  Finished planting pansies—the last 8 in the rockery in front.  Cleaned up PRFB-So.  Started raking leaves in lower driveway but the last 1/2 it was raining.  The wood is coming tomorrow so then I’ll be busy.

Nov 7: Received firewood in pouring rain ($75.00).  They insisted it was dry.  Del Lord offered a tarp—much appreciated as the tarp I planned to use was very wet.

Nov 8: I started piling new wood.  Some pieces big enough for chopping blocks.  I guess I’ll have to order split wood in future.  If Robert doesn’t have time I’ll have to hire someone to split it although Del offered to help me.  NICE MAN.  [Robert and I visited mom for 3 or 4 days each fall to do chores for her.]

Started hemming the new slacks I have had for months.  Then the shopper came [newspaper circular with ads].  Pansies and mums for 39 cents!  I dashed in and bought 4 full trays (64 plants).  I may go back for more plus some mums.

Nov 9:  1:00-4:00 I lit off the burning barrel and the guy next door parked his truck about a foot away.  Del Lord suggested he move it.  I found huge pieces of wood in my new wood.  Del said he was curious so he brought over his wedge and proceeded to chop the big pieces for about an hour.  Mary came over and helped pick up.  It’s nice to have neighbors like that.


illustration by Marcie Hawthorne

Nov 10:  I bought “berry” wire at Yelm Hardware and 3 more metal posts for the new raspberry row. I hope Robert’s back gets better—they won’t be up there till the day before Thanksgiving.  [That must be the autumn when Robert threw his back out planting bulbs and was down for several days.] I stopped at Gordon’s=32 pansies and 18 mums.

Nov 11: I emptied the 6 wooden pots and planted bulbs and pansies on top.  At 4:30 I went into shop and tried pairing off bulbs to plant together but it was too complicated to match up colors, depth of planting and when bloom.  I cleaned the dahlias so they are ready for peat moss and then to bed for the winter.  I washed several of the terracotta pots.  I’ll put pansies in them.

Someday I should count how many pansies I bought.  I planted the 4 Philodendrons in the 2 tall pots.

Nov 13:  1:00-5:15  Finally started planting bulbs.  I filled all the remaining terracotta pots with various bulbs in layers with pansies on top.  Received Van Dyck order. [This was a bulb company that may no longer be around.]  Spent several hours checking order in.

Nov 14: Store

Nov 15: Got a perm today at 3:30 so it was dark and rainy.  I made it home ok but don’t like driving at night on these dark dark roads.  [She had only begun to drive after my dad died in June of this year.  She had gotten her license at about age 62 but had never practiced and joked that she only got the license because the instructor took pity on her after she flunked the driving test three times.]

Nov 16:  Planted tulips in patio bulb bed.  [At last! The mystery of what is “PBB” is solved!]  That job took me all afternoon.  Mary Lord sent Del over to check on me because “she didn’t see any smoke from my chimney for 2 days.


illustration by Marcie Hawthorne

Nov 17:  1:30-6:00  Planted more tulips in PRFB.  [Patio Right Flower Bed?]  There were 25 and 50 per bag.  Planted pansies along bulkhead.  Then spent 4:30-6:00 in shop rearranging bags and bags of bulbs.

Nov 18: 1:30-3:30  Raked leaves from ditch in front including leaves on the road 1/2 way over.  Filled 3 Steel Sacks [39 gallon trash bags].  The bags are too heavy to lift into wheelbarrow so I’ll have to drag them by the “handles”.  I hope they don’t break.

Mrs. Wilson came over and chatted.  She invited me for Tday dinner but I declined.

Nov 19:  I called Skyler to find out the reason for their trip.  I thought they were coming for the chain saw and string trimmer and I suggested they wait until January.  Robert and S said they are coming to help me plant my bulbs.  I hate to have them make the trip just for bulbs.

Nov 20: 1:30-4:30  Spent some time trying to organize my garden books.  Then went outside and cut back plants in Tam and CTFB and picked up leaves and still have more in that area to pick plus all other areas.  So far I’ve got about 10 bags to shred.

Nov 21:  Raked leaves from Tam area, east ditch, and upper driveway.

Nov 22:  Raked leaves.  If I had the nerve and the energy, I would ask Wilsons for the leaves in front of their lot.


illustration by Frank Fretz

Nov 23: Raked leaves.  I got some of the lower driveway raked.

Nov 24:  11:00 to 2:30 GOT RAINED IN  Finished raking leaves except upper driveway and I’ll get them when I plant bulbs there.  I have at least 18 bags to shred plus the straw all to be used as mulch.

R&S arrived about 5 PM.

Nov 25:   Robert and I shredded all the bags of leaves etc.  Skyler planted bulbs all over the tam area—about 6 hours.  There were several hard rains but she didn’t stop.  Robert cut down the brown stool and repaired the old one.  She made a rock pathway in tam area.  It looks kind of nice.

Nov 26:  Skyler planted more bulbs until they were all planted except for the amaryllis and dwarf lilies.  She told me I should plant some bulbs I thought had to be planted in spring. Robert repaired the mailbox, cleaned gutters, and swept the roof.

Nov 27:  NOW the garage door opener won’t work with the remote.  Also the dryer won’t start.  Oh me it’s always something!  GE service will come Wed.

Nov 29:  GE repairman worked on dryer and cleaned out washer filter (Yes, Robert, there is a filter).  Now there is a roof leak at back door (old) and front door (new),  Also the GE man said I should put something on the deck outside as he said he almost fell through.  So I put the board that I use then I do potting in the utility room.  So far in the past week the garage remote won’t open the door, the dryer quit, the washer is plugged, the porch cover leaks, the deck is rotting, what’s next?

Nov 30:  12:00-5:00 RAIN  Spent afternoon inside on houseplants.  Watering, snipping, potting, etc.  I kept wanting to go out to snip the Rhody that we cut out but each time I looked it was pouring again.


illustration by Marcie Hawthornw

1997 (age 73):

Nov 2:  I switched phones from shop.  Skyler called Security Sat night because I didn’t answer several times she called.  It turned out to be that I couldn’t get incoming calls, although I could call out.  Evidently when I used the two 25′ lengths with the connector gizmo from Jayhawks it did something that prevented incoming calls.

Nov 3:  Sent $5000 to Skyler to buy another truck  [Thanks, mom!  Robert and I were badly struggling financially in our seasonal gardening business and had had to buy a vehicle on payments.  She said this was my inheritance from my dad’s estate.]  I called the telephone co.  She agreed that connecting the two 25′ cords did something to incoming calls but the shop phone (now in house) works ok.  I went to dr—weigh 134#—last glucose test ok—got another today.  I got my new glasses (plastic lenses).  They are so lightweight.  I must remember to use cloth to dry them NOT kleenex.

Nov 4:  Dr E said yesterday’s test ok.  Don’t take Tolazimide and see him in three months.  I worked about 3 hours planting my seedlings. I can see the end.  The Park Seed order arrived so I checked it in.  Most of them will go in the patio bed because that’s the area I want in bloom all spring through fall.

Nov 5: 11:00-5:00  I finished planting all of my seedlings.  Tomorrow I probably can get the Park order planted.  Then there are a lot of bulbs to be planted into pots and containers.  Also a lot of pruning and cleaning of the yard and garden.  And wood to be cut etc etc.  I’ve got plenty to keep me busy all winter.  Skyler got my check and will pay off the car tomorrow.  images-2.jpgNov 6: 11:30-4:00   Another good work day. I planted the Park Seed plants today!  Then I transplanted my snapdragon plants and the dianthus plants that were in various containers.  I raked up the driveway.  My next job will be to go through the flower beds and prune the plants and weed and leave the beds in good shape for the winter.  That will be a one or two day job.

Nov 7:  I did paperwork so got a late start outside.  So I only worked a couple of hours.  I planted a few tulips in the patio and UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed].  I pulled scads of sweet woodruff and cut back several perennials and weeded so at least the UDFB is put to bed for the winter.  Later I’ll add some mulch.  Also stepped on Hardy Fuchsia shrub.  Damn.

Nov 8:  It was such a beautiful warm sunny day so I went out and worked in the upper part of the Tam area, cutting back, weeding etc.  I got about a third of the Tam flower bed done.

Nov 10:  Happy Birthday Marine Corps.  I worked again in the Tam area, the same work I’ve done the last two days.  On the evening news they said it will be below freezing tonight.


My mother in the Marine Corps, WWII

Nov 11: Store day—just Payless and QFC.  Then I went out to close the water faucets.  First I had to wash scads of pots and trays piled up in sink.  By then the ground around the sink was very wet and mucky.  I got wet and dirty closing the faucet by the greenhouse.  But I took a hot shower and was ok.  There didn’t seem to be any damage from the frost that I could see.

Nov 12:  12:30-4:00  It seemed like 8 hours.  I spent all that time in the Tam area weeding, pruning, and digging up all the rocks Skyler made a path with.  I also found several more dahlia bulbs.  Some of the mums and asters are still blooming so I let them alone.  Tomorrow I want to rake up the leaves in front of Wilson’s while they are still dry.  The pile to be shredded is huge.

Nov 13:  12:00-3:00  Today I used the thing I bought some time ago that allows me to rake leaves directly into a bag.  It worked good.  I filled 10 bags full of leaves from in front of Wilsons.  It seemed like 6 or 8 hours.  I quit when I was too tired to finish.  However there will be more leaves to fall so I can finish another day.  I even wore a blister on my hand!

Nov 14:  11:00-1:00  2 hours at the dentist for crown.  I have to go back in 2 weeks.

I spent the afternoon puttering with plants in the Floralight.  I repotted some violets. and cut off bad leaves, added systemic insecticide to soil etc.  I tossed a few dead plants.  I ran out of potting soil and was too lazy to go get more from garage.


Floralight from Lee Valley Tools.  She had the 3 tiered one.  It is now at Golden Sands Assisted Living.

Nov 17:  I spent this afternoon in the bedroom filing!—for the first time in 3 months or so.  I threw out outdated records from the files.  As usual, I didn’t finish so I piled everything in a box to finish later.  [Mom cut out a lot of gardening articles to save.]

Nov 18:  I only worked about an hour today.  I brought up a lot of firewood from the shed to the porch.  It’s hard to pile the old sizes from the trees across the street as its a jumble of odd pieces—not the nice pile most people have but it will do.

Nov 21:  Either I didn’t do anything these past 3 days or I just didn’t write it down. ?

Nov 24:  Watered some houseplants and puttered around the house and got recyclables ready for pick up.


Illustration by Frank Fretz.  She would drive past a farm like this on her way to the stores in Yelm.

Nov 25:  Store day.  I called the power company about the huge increase in Aug and Sept power consumption.  They figured use of 10 shoplights (which I had on at the time) costs about $1.17 per day for all 10 lights which adds up to about $70.00 for the 2 month billing period.

Nov 28:  P.O., Tim’s, Payless, and Jayhawks.  Today (Friday) seemed like Monday all day.  Don called and came out to bring me about 8 Grolights and a plant heating pad and all sorts of garden equipment.  He said he’s not going to plant seeds, so he gave me a whole lot of good stuff.  I bought a vest at Jayhawks and more of those small good gloves.


illustration by Frank Fretz

Nov 29:  I went out when sun was out to bring wood in.  I managed to get a lot in but it started to rain.  I was reading the Ilwaco newspaper last night and there was an article about Skyler and a picture of her.  The story about her was about her putting in a garden at the boat house.  [I had gotten mom a subscription to our local paper, the Chinook Observer, in an attempt to lure to to move down her so we could help her out more.  The garden in the article was the Ilwaco boatyard garden.]

1998 (age 74):

Nov 2:  11:00-3:00 WARM IN SUN, COOL IN SHADE   I was in my “go to the store” clothes when the sun came out so I quickly changed and went out.  I finished planted 703 bulbs in the various flower beds.  I keep finding dahlia bulbs in all areas.  Then I started replanting the plants that were in various containers.  I should have 925 bulbs set aside to be planted in containers but I have to get them emptied first.  Del Lord had several trees limbed.  It sure opened up his back yard.

Nov 3: Well, today was store day.  Pd telephone bill, Times, EC Bank and QFC.  I bought 6 bottles of Sprite and had 6 25c Sprite coupons.  When “James” started deducting various coupons he charged me 99 cents each for the Sprite instead of crediting 25c each.  Too late to go back today.


Nov 4: 10:30-5:30  I picked up 2 more pails of apples and peeled and sliced them until 4:30 for only 10 pints.  I hope they seal OK.  (They all sealed).  Del Lord seems to be cutting more trees down.  Mac’s Tree Service was there today.

Nov 5:  12:00-3:00  More apples.  It was sunny so I planted more plants from the various containers.  I got rained in once so I worked in the shop cutting back the dahlias.  Then I went out and planted more until it really got rained in so I quit for the day.

Nov 6: 1:30-4:30  I didn’t get up till 10:00.  Then I had to go to QFC to get a refund on error made last Tuesday.  When I got home I decided to go out to work.  I finished planting various plants that had been in containers.  I finished all but the dianthus in large pot (I don’t know where to put them).  Some of the plants I replanted may be annuals but unsure so I planted them all.  I still have the Park Seeds plants to set out.

Nov 7: Noon-6:00  Peeled apples all afternoon, and got 10 more pints canned slices.

Next week:

  • Clean the rest of the pots and containers
  • Plant Park Seed perennials
  • Start planting container bulbs
  • Cut back all plants that have frozen

Nov 9: 10:30-4:00  Cool-no rain (2 more pails of apples)

I worked planting the Park Seed perennials.  A crew was digging ditch across the road and I thought they might do it on my side.  (I thought they were working on water lines.)  So I dug up some asters to reveal the pipe.  Then I asked and found out they were working on the tv cable.  (They cut it again.)  I used my rock rake in front of Tam area.  Then at 4:00 I got the recycle stuff together.  Then I peeled apples until 8:30 for apple sauce.  Then I had dinner and quit for the day.

Nov 10: Beautiful warm day and I spent the entire day in the kitchen canning the applesauce I cooked last night, and peeling and cooking more which I’ll can tomorrow after I buy some more lids.   I also dried 5 large onions, potatoes, and 2 cabbages.  Cabbage doesn’t dry well.  It ends up little tiny shreds.  Too much waste.  HAPPY MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY.

Mom's Marine Corps days

Mom’s Marine Corps days

Nov 11:  In all day again doing apples after going to the store for more lids.  I canned the sauce I cooked yesterday.  Picked 2 buckets of apples.  I peeled some more to be dehydrated.  Picked up more apples—there seems to be no end to them.

Nov 12:  3 pails of apples today.  Two more trays of slices.  Then I put 7 quart jars in kettle to sterilize them.  I thought I had peeled enough by 6:00 but only filled 5 jars, wasting 2 lids.  A storm is brewing so I hope the rest of the apples fall tonight.  Tomorrow I hope to start washing the dozens of baskets and containers in the shop.

Nov 13:  Noon-6:30  All that time spent peeling enough apples to fill 6 trays and an apple crisp.  It was raining most of the day so I didn’t pick up the apples under the tree.  Overnight the wind must have caused scads of apples to fall because the ground is covered.  I think most of the good apples have fallen.

Nov 14:  7 pails of apples today!  I picked up all those before it started raining.  I got the houseplants watered.  The apples in the 6 trays were almost dry.  I pared more and was then able to empty the trays and fill them up again.

Nov 15: At about 4 o’clock when I brought in some wood I was stung by a bee.  It hurt as bad as any migraine I’ve ever had.  It continued hurting terribly. I considered calling 911 or St Peters but felt silly calling about a bee sting.  I used a package of frozen veggies as an ice pack.  Then when I was going to have some toast at about 11 there was a bee on the side of the table!

Next week:

  • clean out the containers
  • turn on shop hot water tank
  • while water in on clean out the BBQ
  • start planting container bulbs
  • rake and bag the fallen leaves
  • set strawberry flats in garden and cover with leaves and Reemay

Nov 16: 12:00-4:45  I got up at 8 AM!  I turned on the shop hot water heater when I went out to get the newspaper.  At noon when I went out to work I worked in Tam area [formerly Juniper tams, now flower bed, by the road] while waiting for the mail because I didn’t want to leave the Amex check in the mailbox.  Then I started washing the various containers and baskets.  I was glad to have the warm water because the cold water made my bee stung hand hurt as bad as yesterday.  More pots and BBQ to wash tomorrow.

Nov 17:  (Slept till 11:00.)  I cleaned the BBQ grates as best I could.  The top two weren’t bad but the bottom one is very rusted.  Then I finished washing all the pots and containers.  Then I turned off the hot water heater.  Using the stepladder I was able to get all the quart jars down.  Later I ran the dishwasher to wash them all.  I picked another 4+ pails apples again.  In the evening after JAG, I started trying to organize the bulbs to be planted in containers. a Busy Day !

[This entry contains the first hint that in the evening, she had various television shows she liked to watch, usually police or law stories.  She also enjoyed reading novels; her favourites were Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, Clive Cussler, John Grisham, Danielle Steele sorts of books.]

Nov 18:  I went out intending to start planting bulbs into the various containers but ended up raking the leaves from behind the house on top of the compost pile about at least a foot of leaves deep.  There will still be pails and pails of apple peels to pile on when all the apples are gone.  I will toss soil on top and let the pile alone for the winter.  2 PAILS APPLES


Nov 19:  11:15-4:30  RAINY  I peeled apples until 3:30 and canned 7 quarts.  Then I peeled more to make 4 trays to dry today.

Nov 20:  Again peeled apples but I miscalculated and only had enough to fill 6 quarts.  Also peeled enough for 6 more trays to dry.

Nov 21:  I had enough tomatoes ripe but as undecided how to fix them (no space in freezer) so I canned them (in mayo jars) 5 pints.  I took all the canned apples to the shop.  I brought pint jars from the garage.  I brought enough wood in for tomorrow and picked up another two pails of apples.  Luckily the rain stopped long enough to do these chores.

Nov 23: Busy day.  I was going to bring wood from behind the shop but wanted to burn the branches and stuff in the wheelbarrow so I could use the barrow for wood.  I had a heck of a time burning it because stuff in the barrow wasn’t dry.  By then it was raining hard while I kept stirring up the fire.  I brought some wood in from shed.  By then I was drenched.  I also brought in the wide mouth pints.  Recycle day.  Also washed clothes.

Nov 24:  Windy.  Errand day.  Cashed CD in at FCB which should give me enough ready cash for down payment on whatever place we see for me to live in.  [She moved to Long Beach the following June to a double wide manufactured similar in age and style to the one she lived in at Nisqually Pines. “Oh, this is NICE”,  she said when the realtor showed it to her after she had rejected several cute vintage cottages.  At the time, since she had said we should pick out something that I liked and would enjoy inheriting someday, I was sorely disappointed, so it is ironic that in 2010, the year she died, after a lifetime of living in cute vintage houses, I ended up moving into a double wide of similar age in Ilwaco.]  

Watered plants with indoor hose.  The wand popped off once and sprayed water all over my lazyboy but no harm done.  Spent $96.00 at QFC.


Back then, there was nothing but farms between Nisqually Pines and Yelm.

Nov 25:  Rain all day.  After breakfast I started to arrange bulbs for containers.  Then at 2:00 I started peeling apples.  At 8:30 I took the 7 quarts out of the canner.  That’s almost an hour per qt.  I’ve still got 4 pails of apples on the back porch and many more on the ground.  Tomorrow I must take care of tomatoes.

Nov 26:  I canned 4 pts of tomatoes and peeled 6 trays of potatoes to dehydrate.  I picked 2 more pails of apples.  Then I brought all the pails in, dumped them in the sink, and sorted them.  I have 4 pails and a 5 gallon pail of little scabby ones which will be used last if at all.

Nov 27:  Well I intended to start planting my container bulbs but I decided to peel enough spuds for 6 trays.  By then it was raining.  So I started peeling apples—then the sun came out but by then I had made the syrup etc.  So from noon to 7:00 PM I canned another 7 qts.  I used 2 pails of apples so maybe I can see the end of the apples.  I’ve been working on apples since Sept 14th.

Nov 30:  This wasn’t my usual productive Monday.  I accomplished some things.  I peeled enough spuds for 5 trays.  That almost finished the 20# I bought last week.  Then I sliced 5 large onions to make the last tray.  I had to bring in wood.  Since I’ve seen 5 or 6 bees in the wood, I’m not bringing as much into the house.  I fill the cart and bring in what I need at a time.









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Three of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  When these diaries began, she and my dad lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a 10,500 lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  Because he was 8 years older, she was able to retire at age 55 in 1979.  (He died in June, 1995.)  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden, apple trees, and strawberry beds.  Any comments of mine are in brackets.

1995 (age 71, three months after her husband died):

September 3: Rain is forecast so I hurried and picked up the onions that I laid in the “corn patch” to cure.  For now they are in the garage in the wheelbarrow until I have time to sort them.

September 5: Spent a couple of hours cleaning and sorting the onions.  The sets from Gordons Nursery grew large onions.  The other bulbs were from Dutch Gardens but those bulbs came late.  I plan on weighing the onions when I get around to it.  [She used this symbol instead of writing “around to it”; she had an needlepoint round “Tuit”  hanging on the wall:]


September 7:  I’ve been doing little jobs and I forget to write them down.  I went to bed at 8:00 because being alone is depressing.

September 8:  The leak in the first standpipe is now a torrent down the driveway.  Kathy Tye suggested I leave a message for Roger and/or the maintenance man.  Went to bed at 6:00 PM.  Awake at 4 AM.

September 9:  Left the message with security guard then I dug up plants near water pipe.  I diverted the water so it is now going back under the UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed].  Maybe it will flood out the mole.  Now to keep my mind busy I’m going to order some plants from Bluestone.

September 11: The Pines (Roger) was no help re the water leak.  He said “Call a plumber”.  I called and BJ Plumbing came out and fixed the leak in about two hours.  The problem was one fitting at the stand pipe was broken.  What a relief!  I hope you are watching, Bruce, so you will know it’s all fixed.


Sept 19: store day

Sept 20:  1:00-5:00 Started potting the perennials from Owen.  Did some watering.  Also moved several wheelbarrow loads mushroom compost to cover the new and old compost boxes.  Also sieved some MC which makes wonderful soil.

Sept 21:  Finished the perennials started yesterday.  Potted the new Owen raspberry plants in large pots.  5 Varieties 5 to a pot.

1997 (age 73):

September 1: Monday through Friday  I did some work each day but didn’t write anything down for the whole week.  Washed clothes.

Sept 2:  Paid bills.  Shopped at former Stock Market, now QFC.  It’s very nice and some items higher price.

Sept 3:  I discovered that the $6.00 sirloin tip roast from QFC was in a sack on a kitchen chair.  I called QFC and the meat man said not to eat it so I’ll throw it out next Monday on garbage day.

Sept 4: Planted some seedlings and put them under lights in greenhouse.  Bought 2 pairs of jeans from Jayhawks.  Of course, I will have to shorten them.

Sept 5:  I needed more compost soil for plants so I tackled the compost.  I placed boards along the front of the “new” box and then skimmed off the weeds etc on top of the old box and piled it on top of the “new” box.  Then I started sieving the contents of the old box using the sieve on top of the garden cart.  It worked real good.  I’ll work on the sieving on cooler days.  That should be real good compost as there is some mushroom compost in that box.  I plan on taking out all the stuff from the old box and then make it smaller by moving in the boards along the front.


illustration by Frank Fretz

Sept 7:  I changed seedlings in shop around by putting the ones that have germinated in the center where they will get the best light.  I need another shop light over table.

Sept 8: Bill Koepp finally called.  He said his son will do the shop roof and front porch.  Bill Jr came over.  He will start tomorrow.  Don came out—we just visited.  I sprayed front ditch with Safer weedkiller.  Then I weeded in lower driveway till 5:30.  I also did some deadheading and weeding in tam area.  [roadside flower bed that used to be juniper tams]  Then I weeded in lower driveway.  When I get the big weeds pulled I’ll go over the driveway with Roundup.

Sept 10:  I wish I could write in this log each day.  I worked outside and/or trotted behind Bill while he did various jobs around here.

Sept 11:  Bill Sr has handed his business over to Bill Jr so I should call Jr for jobs needing doing.  [I wonder if it’s because Bill Sr didn’t like being trotted after while working; I know I don’t!  I’ve tactfully quit gardening jobs where I got trotted after.]

Sept 12: Bill Jr worked on porch and finished it up.  He moved all but one TV back up to shop.  He did some odds and ends.  He’ll come back tomorrow with Bill Sr.

He chopped the big pieces of wood from the lot across the street.  Moved extra plywood to garage.

Sept 13:  Bill Jr and Sr moved heavy TV to shop and put 4th shop light over train table.  Bill Sr put access door on porch.  He had one too many panels on it so he just dug a ditch across opening and pushed door into the ditch to make it fit.  I wasn’t too happy about that.

Sept 15:  Wet, rainy and cool.  Would like to build a fire in stove but will wait till Bill Jr cleans chimney.  He said there is a lot of creosote in it.

Sept 16: Paid bill for Bill Jr’s work on shop roof and deck etc. $876.50!

Sept 17:  RAIN—WIND   There are quite a few Rhody branches blown over street and driveway from PRFB-E shrub.  [Patio Right Flower Bed?]  Moved trays of seedling plants from greenhouse up to shop and the trays of shop ungerminated seeds to greenhouse.  Many of seedlings are ready for one more transplanting before planting in garden.

Sept 18: Dental appt for 6 month cleaning—much better condition since using sugar free gum, fluoride mouthwash and Mentadent toothpaste.  I need a $700 crown in lower right molar.  Ins. should pay half.

Bill Jr came over and cleaned chimney including vacuuming out stove which Delphi never did.

Sept 19: Transplanted a lot of seedlings into the paper cups that Don gave me.  I cut out the bottoms so when I plant them I can slide the plant out of the cups right into the hole.

Sept 20:  Bill Jr called to quote $808.00 for the garage roof.  I swallowed hard then told him ok let’s do it.  He will get the material today and start Monday.


illustration by Frank Fretz

Sept 22: Drs appt at 10:00.  My glucose test was 115—which is normal!  He said to quit taking Tolazimide and get another glucose test in 10 days.  Bill Jr started garage roof.  He took off old shingles.  I weeded in the “ditch”.  I thought it was kind of hot.  Later I found out it was 80 degrees.  No wonder I was soaked.

Sept 23: Store day at fancy new QFC.  Much too high falutin’ for bucolic Yelm but it is the only big store in town.  Bill Jr finished the garage roof (in two days) even tho he wasn’t feeling well.  After the store I did some weeding in the berries by the asparagus.  I also found blight on several tomato plants.  I pulled those plants and put them in the garbage can!

Sept 24: I threw out the pots that didn’t germinate.  I moved most of the flats from greenhouse to the shop.  Yesterday Bill took the bulb out of the security light because it wouldn’t turn off.

Sept 25: RAIN  I started repotting the seedlings that did sprout.  I worked at the shop work bench.  I did ok potting in there except having to bring all my stuff up there.

Sept 26: RAIN   I finished repotting seedlings and got them all under the 4 lights on the train table so I was able to turn off all the lights in the greenhouse.

Sept 27:  Today I finally straightened up the greenhouse!!  I moved the short light from below up above the middle shelf.  I moved pots onto the top shelf and sorted a lot of stuff—some I’ll take to the shop.

Sept 28:  1:00-4:00  I cleaned up the path and put some plants down in PRFB-S.  Washed a lot of pots left from my potting in shop last week.  I was going to start cutting branches up but it was too late to start.  Maybe next week.

Sept 30:  I started to chop up the branches piled next to the shop until I got rained on.  So I went into the shop and weeded the pots under the lights and watered them well.  I know quite a few of the plants are weeds but since I don’t recognize some I’ll let them grown to see what they are.


illustration by Carol Inouye from Organic Gardening Country Calendar

1998 (age 74)

Sept 1:  HOT  86 degrees   Too hot.  I took my nap in my Lazy Boy chair.

Sept 2 HOT  $300.00 bill today  80 degrees   It wasn’t too terribly hot but I was at loose ends. Fat Bill came to work on the floors. [Must be another Bill.  Knowing my mom (who had been fat herself for years till after my dad died and she stopped eating much at all),  describing this Bill as fat was critical as well as descriptive.]  Bill Jr picked up the vinyl so Fat Bill and Chris started installing it.  He started at the front door and got over the kitchen area.  They’ll all be back tomorrow—maybe to finish it.  The vinyl is beautiful.  [It was a brown and tan square pattern, as I recall.]

Sept 3:  HOT  $1414 bill today  82 degrees   Well, there was a full crew here today.  Bill Jr, Fat Bill, and his son Josh, Chris and Mike.  Bill finished installing the vinyl.  Yesterday he suggested using the cove border which will be available tomorrow.  Bill Jr will install it tomorrow and repair little bathroom floor and repair back steps which he found to be dangerous.

Sept 4  $500+ bill today  Well, the new vinyl is installed.  Bill Jr finished repairing the little bathroom and put the toilet back in.  He installed the cove molding. Mike repaired the back porch south steps.  Bill said he might bring his wife Debbie to see my flowers.  He says she wants to meet me (why?).  I started putting things back where they belong—but I’m trying to clean the items first so it is slow.  I got the stuff from the back porch back inside.


illustration by Carol Inouye

Sept 5 (Saturday):  81 degrees   I did some paper work today to catch up.  I went to Tim’s to get a copy for a return and evidently left the original in the copy machine.  I’ll go get it (if it is there) and mail some packages Tuesday.

I’m having trouble with my begonias this year.  First I found the ones on the porch were mildewed.  Then yesterday I found several basket begonias absolutely limp.  I forgot to water them last Wednesday and it was Friday when I noticed them.  I took 4 or 5 baskets over to the table and cut some of the droopy leaves.  Maybe they will grow more.  But if they don’t, I’ll just let them die back until time to put them away for the winter.  It’s supposed to rain next week so maybe I can get those perennials plants planted.

I saw the first sign of a ripening tomato this week.

Re the vinyl:  It is beautiful.  The only thing I don’t like is the white in the 1st bathroom along the tub and the white sealer on the floor next to the refrig.  Re the porch step repair:  I’ll need to replace the “grass” [artificial turf that she had on the stairs] if I try to sell this place and move to Ilwaco.

Sept 7:   I had my first tomato tonight! [I think that they took this long to ripen because she grew her tomatoes from seed and most were large fruited varieties.]  I didn’t wake up until 11:00 AM after I went to bed at 1:00!  I watered my house plants and threw out 3 or 4.  At about 4:00 I started “hand watering’ my containers—that takes over an hour.  I didn’t accomplish much else.  I’m still looking for stuff and watering around trying to put stuff away.

Sept 10:  STORE DAY.  I didn’t even get up early enough to water but I did water in the evening.  It gets dark now around 8:00 so I can’t do much.  I sorted some of the stuff I had tossed into a box when the guys were working here. Now the stuff is in 3 boxes to be sorted and put away.

Sept 11:  I threw out 149 cans of pop!  There are two 12 packs of Sprite that are probably ok. [They were well past expiration, I guess.]  Also there are 7 cans of beer that I saved for slugs.  Last night I saw a frog/toad in front and today I saw the one that’s usually in the garden sink.

Cool weather is forecast for next week.  I’d like to bring in the wood as well as plant more perennials.

I don’t remember what I did Wednesday.

Sept 14 (Monday):  Cooked first applesauce.  It always seems like my busiest day is Monday.  I went out about noon to do some hand watering but ended up in the garage. I brought 4 or 5 boxes of various sizes of pots from the shed and sorted all the pots by size.  Then I started rooting through the stuff along the east side.  I threw out lots of containers such as cottage cheese tubs etc.  Now I can reach the boxes left over from my garage sale so I can sort thru them soon.

Sept 15:  I received a box of Hydrangea plants and a box of Poppy plants from Spring Hill.  Both orders had been cancelled by them.  They are really mixed up. My froggie is in the garden sink so I put the frog/toad house in the sink with a latticed tray over him.

Sept 16:  I planted the Hydrangeas in gallon pots.  Also planted other various plants from seed.  Everything except the Spring Hill poppies are in large enough containers to wait til fall to out out in the garden.

The frog is using his house in the sink.


frog house from Lee Valley Tools

Sept 17:  Rain 1st time in 6 weeks.  I was torn between working on strawberries, planting perennials, or the wood pile.  I brought in wood until it started raining. Then I started in the garage sorting through boxes of leftover yard sale stuff—some for VCBO and some to go to the place in Rainier that took a lot of other leftovers in 1997.

Sept 18:  Rain.  I hope this rain doesn’t cause the tomato blight.

I worked for 2 or 3 hours on the woodpile after I straightened up the shed a bit.  When it started raining hard I worked in the garage again.  I finished sorting boxes to give away, then I re-arranged the empty boxes in the back, and swept up a lot of dirt.  Sometime soon I’m going to use the Filter Queen vac and blow out the dust and dirt on the garage floor.


illustration by Carol Inouye

Sept 19: Watched football

To do:

  •  Finish sorting pots into boxes (some need washing)
  • Finish cleaning up garage
  • Finish bringing wood up to woodshed (done 9/24)
  • Replant strawberries into proper rows.
  • Plant poppies from Spring Hill (done 9/22)
  • Clean up the greenhouse (done 9/25)

Sept 21:  I had my teeth cleaned and went to store.  This wasn’t one of my usually busy Mondays.  [I still believe her Mondays were busiest because she took Sundays off to do the crossword puzzle!]

Sept 22:  I planted the new Spring Hill Poppies mostly in the UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed] and the special red one in tam area [former juniper tam bed, now flowers, by the roadside].  Also planted the armerias I grew from seeds.  I picked some apples and peeled and made apple sauce until 7:00.

Sept 23:  Noon to 4:30 COOL   I worked all this time moving firewood from driveway to wood shed.  I hoped to finish but had to quit at 4:30.  One more day and it will be done.  There are a lot of big brown slugs in the pile.  Also another froggy which I caught and put in the garden sink where my other one stays.

Sept 24:  11:00-4:45 COOL   I finished moving the wood to the woodshed including the small pile back of the house.  I cleaned up the driveway, folded up the tarp and then moved out a dozen more pots along the RR tie that was hidden by the woodpile.  I did some “hand watering”.  I’m glad that wood pile is done.


Sept 25: 10:30-3:15 COOL RAINY  When I went out I started moving the strawberry plants into the rows.  But I soon got rained in so I started cleaning up the greenhouse.  I even brought in the Filter Queen and blew the dirt off the shelves.  In the meantime it stopped raining but I kept straightening the greenhouse.  I was going back to the strawberries but it started to rain so I quit.

Sept 26:  Noon-4:00 Beautiful day.  I stayed in to watch the Huskies against Nebraska.  The Huskies got whipped but I peeled apples while I watched.  From a basket of apples I filled 6 dehydrator trays.  The small apples which mostly had fallen were wormy but the large ones most of which I picked from the trees were nice and clean.

To do:

  • Clean up shop [a large two room outbuilding]
  • Sort unwanted stuff in shop to junk or give away

NOTE Last year the first hard freeze was on Oct 24

Sept 28:  I hooked up the new indoor hose and it works!  I even watered both back and front porch baskets and clear out to picnic table! I hooked up FQ to blow off the needles etc from the brown tarp. I’ll use it to cover the wood box.  Then I blew away a lot of the dirt from garage floor.


Sept 29:  I brought in two pails of apples and peeled them from 11:30-4:00.  I got 7 trays to dry and 2 pkgs sieved applesauce.  Also 2 pkgs of tomatoes.  I picked off a lot of the small scabby apples plus those on the ground.  I’m picking from the lower branches.  These are the best apples in the last 3 or 4 years.

Sept 30:  Spent most of the day on paperwork.  Paid bills etc.





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Three of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  When these diaries began, she and my dad lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a 10,500 lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  (He died in June, 1995.)  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden.

1995 (age 71):

[The journal takes up in mid July after my dad’s death in early June.]

July 9:  Went out to pick raspberries and found the north post fallen over.  The middle one is ready to fall too but is held up by the wire.

July 10:  Picked RB—5 cups frozen.  Also was going to plant some tomatoes, but ran into a below ground beehive.  Got stung twice.  Then found another huge nest in the box of cedar rounds next to green table.  Sprayed them as they came crawling out.  [I like to think these were hornets or wasps, not bees.  Remember, back in 1995 the idea of bee colony collapse was not in the news.]

July 11:  Cut off the leaves from tulip tree branches.  Got a box full of “twigs” for stove.  There are a few branches that need to be chopped up.  I had to go to Jayhawks for cat litter.  I got out of the driveway ok on first try.

July 12: 1:00-6:15  I accomplished something today (finally).  Planted some dahlias in VBW [I am mystified as to which flower bed this means] and tam bed [flower bed by roadside, formerly juniper tams].  Still a lot of new ones plus those in shop.  Picked raspberries—4 cups frozen.

July 13:  Went to bed at 2:45.  (I had the Reader’s Digest and lost all track of time.)  No sleep so got up at 5 and read till 6 AM.  Went back to bed.  Went right to sleep and woke at 1:45 PM.  After breakfast and the mail I went outside not knowing what I would do.  Weeded north area for squash and tomatoes.  Found a new bee nest in rock wall.  Also the nest in the garden is still active.  I want to plant carrots and tomatoes there but I have to get rid of the nest first.

July 14:  I mailed claim to CUNA to file for Bruce’s accidental death.  City pays for $2000 and we pay $3 a month for $39,000 “contributory coverage”, but would be 50% reduction after 70 years.  It would be nice if they will approve the claim but I’m not holding my breath.  [Both of my parents had worked for the city of Seattle for about 15 years before their retirement.]

Pulled weeds most of the day.  Top Ramen noodles for dinner.

July 15:  Planted more of the bulbs.  I punched holes in the boiler and the two black “wood” buckets and planted dahlias in them.  I tried drowning the garden bee nest. I’ll see tomorrow if they are still there.

Roast beef sandwich, pineapple, and rhubarb bread. I’m going to try and write down what I eat for dinner to see what kind of diet I’m on.  (7/24 Good idea but I can’t eat.)

July 16:  I threw away my Sunday crossword puzzle.  Now I’ll see if I can leave it next Sunday.

Picked raspberries—one for me, two for the freezer.  I’m still trying to drown the bees in the garden.


“another wasted week.  I know I did something but I can’t remember doing anything.”

July 24:  Roxie [the cat] has been in the dog house for peeing on stereo and desk.

Finally finished planting new dahlias.  Then I checked the old ones in the shop.  A lot of them are dried up.  I was surprised to see I had ordered a whole duplicate order this year.  I’ll put the old ones out in the garden to see if any are OK.

July 25: 11-5  I got the old dahlias planted—the ones saved from last year.  I know some labels are mixed up so I’m going to have to go around when (if) they are in bloom and mark them by color and height.  It’s 9:00 PM and Roxy is still out.  Maybe she won’t come home.  Also I planted the new carnations.

1997: age 73

July 1:  Store and errand day

July 2: Picked berries and that’s about all I did.

July 3:  Don called and woke me up.  He is coming out just to visit.

He switched two begonia baskets for two that looked better.

I ordered steaks and hamburger from Omaha Steaks for Skyler and Robert.  Worked on Bluestone Perennial order.

July 5:  Picked berries.  Had enough raspberries to freeze two packages.  Spent quite awhile outside “pruning” two of my strawberry rows, cutting out spent stalks that had berries on them, cutting out brown and yellow leaves and weeding.  The June berries are gone and not many everbearing.  Enough for a breakfast.

July 7: cool and cloudy  Picked raspberries—froze 2 pkgs.  Worked from 3:00 to 5:00 “pruning” rows 1 and 2 of strawberries.  Called in Bluestone Perennial order.


illustration by Marcie Hawthorne

July 8: Rain  Store and errand day.  Paid Quarterly Pines dues and assessments.

Spent afternoon “pruning’ African Violets.  There were scads of long stems which I removed and put into water in bathroom planter—there must be over 100 stems from only two trays of plants which are now in one tray.

July 9:  Continued trimming violets.  Divided some. Finally vacuumed the Floralight corner.  Picked berries.  Dale and his new wife Jean stopped in.  They travel a lot in their 30′ motor home.

July 10:  Finished trimming violets.  If all the leaves sprout I’ll have to move out to make room for the new plants.

There are two tomatoes on one plant almost Ping Pong size.


illustration by Frank Fretz

July 11: Picked berries.

July 14: Picked berries.  Don came out—just to visit (?)  He changed bulb in light over utility sink by taking the bulb out of the light over the dryer.  We took old clocks back to the shop.  I went to FCB bank to sign form to stop payment on the $5000 check I sent to SFCB on 6/10 for a new CD.  They didn’t get it.

July 15:  12:00-4:30  I got out and did some yard work.  I planted all of the rest of the Pik Red tomatoes and some Early Girls.  Watered in front.  Pulled a bunch of the perennial geraniums that are everywhere!  I used the “trench” system when I planted the tomatoes.  It will be interesting to see how this method works.

July 16:  11:00 to 5:30  Picked berries—there were some nice strawberries from everbearing plants.  Finished planting all the tomatoes—some pretty small and may not survive.  Planted a row of pepper plants out but saved a few in greenhouse to see which do the best.  Then I potted snapdragon and poppy seedling.  Then I heard Walt and Mary Anne so I went over and brought home 5 barrow loads of wood that he had split.

July 17: goofed off


illustraton by Frank Fretz

July 18:  11:00 to 4:30  7:00 to 8:00   Picked berries.  Started to use old hay from pile to mulch tomatoes but it had too many branches.  Maybe I’ll use the “new” hay in garage.  Cut back some of the big plant that had fallen over into ditch.  Did some weeding in lower driveway.  After dinner I weeded the pathway in veggie garden.   By then I was exhausted.

July 19 HOT AGAIN  I was going to plant some perennial seeds but it was too hot and did some watering.  Worked in the garage sorting the stuff piled up under tarps not for sale during garage sales.  I put the “Robert stuff” together along east wall.  [She gave my spouse at the time, Robert, a lot of dad’s old tools and accoutrements.]  I put my garden stuff (trays etc) on tables etc.  I still have several boxes of pots etc in shed to be moved to garage (another day).  I wish I could get the TVs back into the shop but they are too heavy even for Don to move.


illustration by Frank Fretz

July 21: 10:30-5:00! COOLER  Picked berries, barely enough for one breakfast.  I planned to mulch and cage the tomatoes but ended up weeding, deadheading, and watering the flower beds in upper driveway and tam area.  I pulled gobs of the perennial geranium plants that are everywhere.  Did some weeding in front “ditch” but didn’t get done so I quit working at 5:00.

July 22:  Store and errands day.  Paid electric bill, Tim’s, Payless and Stock Market.  Which is being redone by new owners (QFC) so it’s very difficult finding items.

July 23:  Spent the day potting the many many violet leaves.  I used a new liquid rooting concentrate instead of powder.  There were so many warnings about wearing protective clothing etc and had to use it all up at one time.  Many of the leaves hadn’t rooted yet but I went ahead and potted them all.  It will be interesting to see how many root after using the liquid.

July 24: Finished potting the violet leaves.  Then I put 5 trays of them under the lights in the shop.  I figured that I planted 160 leaves.

July 27: I Swissed a big package of round steak and it made enough to freeze 6 pkgs plus two meals tonight and tomorrow.

July 28:  11:00-5:00 w/time out to visit with Don.  He fixed one of the Rube Goldberg hoses and we threw out one no good hose.  Four hours of work ok in the tomatoes.  I watered in patio bed then weeded and pulled out some spreading plants.  Then watered.  It was hot but I was working in the shade.  Fell down twice because of soft soil there.  Finished up my shift by deadheading geraniums along driveway.

July 29:  Worked 4 hours weeding tomato patch and area around E water pipe and along east beds.  It was hot but I was in the shade most of the time.  I have several piles of weeds to pick up.

July 30:  10:00 to 3:00  Another 4 hours sitting on my stool in the “ditch” in tam area.  Weeded up into tam area and watered there.  I left one area near driveway to see if the Roundup Bruce mixed (more than 2 years ago) would kill those weeds.  Also used Roundup on the weeded area.  The Safer weedkiller had not worked.

July 31:  I’m stiff after two days sitting on the stool for 4 hours each day.

1998 (age 74)

July 1: 12:00 to 5:00 It was cool so I started planting the determinate tomato plants in the salad bowl.  That meant I had to remove the pile of mushroom compost so I sieved it into 3 old garbage cans and I moved the old burned out barrel to behind the garage to sieve into.  Then I decided to use an old post to edge the area and made a “raised garden” for the tomatoes.  (32 determinate tomato plants) Picked berries after dinner.

July 2: Errand day.  Paid power bill and telephone bill, NVN renewal.  Hardware store for my screen to screen compost (which I forgot to bring home) then QFC.

July 3:  I spent all that time planting tomatoes, mostly indeterminate, in the garden.  When I pulled the black tarp back, there wasn’t a single weed.  I had to go to Yelm Hardware to get the screen that I forgot yesterday.  I kept track of the tomato varieties so I should be able to know which are best (except for 8 plants without labels).  I made a quick count of 94 plants.

July 4:  11:00 t0 5:00  cloudy and cool  I checked the seedlings in shop.  I moved some plants out of the greenhouse and then moved some from shop to greenhouse and then moved more plants from house to shop.  I think next week I’ll spend time fixing color bowls.  Picked berries.  Had enough to freeze 3 pkgs.  There were quite a few BIG raspberries.

I checked back to 1997 and read that I set out tomato plants on 6/28 so I’m only about a week later this year.   I also planted some tomatoes on June 6 and 13 last year.  Also I read of large berry pickings.  I don’t think I’m getting as many berries this year.


illustration by Marcie Hawthorne

July 6: HOT  Today I worked in the shade planting seedlings into several bowls.  There are several plants (annuals) too tall for bowls.  I think I’ll plant these in some big peat pots and some in the peat trays so I can plant them directly into the flower bed when they are big enough to fend for themselves.

July 7: Another morning headache so I took this day off.

July 8 (Wednesday): Picked berries.  A large amount of raspberries.  Continued the work I was doing Monday.  In the evening I took Tabby out.  She seemed to enjoy it until Alan came over.  She was scared of him so we went in.

July 9:  I took another day off.  Slept until 2:00.

July 10:  I checked all the trays in the shop again and dumped out the ones that didn’t germinate when they should.  I’m surprised at how many of the old seeds are growing. My color bowls are almost full.  I’m anxious to see how they will look when and if they bloom.

July 11:  11:00 – 4:30 WITH TABBY  Tabby didn’t want to come out but seemed to like being out.  She was laying down in the strawberries and then in the tomatoes.  I had to move her when she got into the area where there is old slug bait.  Later on she got spooked by something so I brought her in.  She ran under the bed with the chain following.  I finished planting some tomatoes that didn’t get planted last week.

I finally moved the card table from the kitchen.  I had it there when I was planting seeds—for at least two months.  Now the kitchen seems much bigger.

July 13:  Bill returned my call,  He will come next Sunday to do all my odd jobs.

10:30-5:45  I wonder why I usually get so much done on Mondays. [My theory is that she spent Sunday doing the big crossword puzzle and getting some rest.]  I picked berries.  Enough RBs for 5+ pkgs.  Then I started plucking the tam and patio Rhodies.  Then I decided to bring Tabby out but she jumped off porch twice and was spooked by the chain.  When I tried to untangle her she took off, trailing the chain to under the shed.  She was a mess, stuff all over her belly.  She went inside and I continued plucking and did some watering.

July 14: I went to QFC to buy the chicken that was on sale. I picked raspberries, enough for 4 packages.  Then I froze the chicken and the milk.  I threw out all the jars of applesauce that I canned several years ago.  I fixed coleslaw and spanish rice for my dinner.  Also made large jello with carrot and cabbage.

July 15:  Skyler called to say they have an appt to see a place in Long Beach—two manufactured homes across the street from each other.  One is a 3 bedroom and the other a 2 bedroom.  It has a lot of water damage though.  They want 90,000+.  [By this year, mom was considering moving to Long Beach and we were beginning to look at houses for her.]

June 16: Today was too hot to work in the sun.  I watered baskets and pots.  Then I worked in shade planting seedlings.  I pretty much caught up transplanting the seedlings that are large enough.  I am tossing out the ones that haven’t germinated.  I am surprised how many of the old seeds came up.

July 17:  I went out before breakfast to pick RB.  It was cool and stayed that way until I finished picking and then the sun came out.  HOT. 78 degrees.  I worked in the shade transplanting seedlings.  Also watered tomatoes and the trays in the shop.

July 18:  It was cool enough to be nice and comfortable working in the garage.  In order to empty the table in the woodshed, I brought the boxes of canning jars to the garage.  I sorted them so Bill Jr can put them up on shelves tomorrow.  I straightened up the garage and got the things together for him to take to the shop.  Then I checked the trays of plants in the shop and dumped the ones that haven’t germinated.  (Had the toots all day.)

July 19:  Bill Jr came over.  The floor in bathroom is rotted and must be fixed.  This means new vinyl which he will do throughout.  He is also going to seal roof with zinc to retard moss growth.  He did some things on my long list.  He will come back Saturday to do the rest of the odd jobs.  I’m not sure how but soon the other repair work will be done.

Skyler called to say the houses they looked at aren’t very good.  The small one (for me) is awful dark and in poor condition.  She told the real estate agent there is no rush as we won’t be doing any moving for a year or so.  I was glad to hear that.  [There was something wrong with the well.  For local readers: The lot was on 102nd west of Sandridge Road on the north side.  Mom was planning to move to Long Beach, which she did the following June.]

July 20:  9:00 AM to 9:00 PM   Another hot day.  I picked berries first.  Did laundry.  Wrote to MBNA re annual fee.  I was busy all day.  In the morning, I watered from 9 to 10 and I went out and 7:00 and watered until 9:00.  It’s supposed to be hot and hotter the rest of the week.  4+ pkgs raspberries today.

July 21:  I put out all my quart mayo jars to recycle.  I’ll keep all the pints.  I can use mayo pints for tomatoes.  I called Foremost Insurance Co.  They will send an agent to check damage in bathroom floor—in 3 or 4 days.

July 22:  TOO HOT  90 degrees.  The agent called at 9:00 AM.  She will come tomorrow at 1:00.  I worked all day going over my house plants.  I repotted several, threw some out, and put the plants back in the Floralight.  I picked berries at 5:30 still hot—not many because of the heat.  I watered from 7:00 to 9:00—then showered and quit for the day.


July 23:  It was cool and a good day to work outside but I had to wait for the Foremost insurance agent at 1:00.  She took some pictures and looked under the house, etc.  She will call Bill after she left.  I worked transplanting seeds in the shade (by then it was hot).  Bill brought a “vinyl man” to look over the area to be redone.  I worked outside till 6:30.  I also did some illegal watering on the raspberries and tomatoes.

July 24:  8:30 AM until 9:00 PM  WOW!  cool, cloudy until mid afternoon .  It was my day to water so I went out to set up the hose and of course I started weeding and deadheading.  Later I went in to see if it was 10:00 yet and it was 11:15 so I turned off the water and came in and had breakfast.  Then I went out and started washing the huge number of pots. (Bill Jr had fixed the drain pipe in the shop.)  I came in at 6:15 to feed Tabby and eat a bowl of Jello.  At 7:00 to 9:00 I watered and deadheaded again.

July 25:  Bill came to start on my job list.  He tried to sweep the moss off the roof but said it would need to be pressure washed.  He did lots of jobs and would be back tomorrow.

July 26 HOT HOT HOT 96 degrees.  What a day, the hottest day so far.  Bill brought 2 guys with the pressure washer plus another guy that did some jobs.  I washed some more pots but got too hot so I sorted some stuff in the garage.  A huge amount of moss, etc.  It really messed up my begonias and pots.  Some of the patio bed is covered but too hot to clear it out.

The tomatoes planted behind the shop in the mushroom compost are really doing great.

July 27:  HOT 98 degrees  Too hot to do anything.  I sorted through various catalog stuff.  I got so sleepy I took a nap from about 3:00 to 9:30!  Too hot to eat so I didn’t.

July 28:  HOT 98 degrees  Picked raspberries but not very many.  A lot of the plants seem to be dried up from the hot weather even though I have been watering every day (illegally).

July 29:  I worked cleaning the patio bed.  Some plants were covered by the moss and debris from the roof.  [The house roof was under pine trees.] I pulled all the ground cover along the path.  I intend to plant some of the flowers that are too tall to plant in bowls.  Cleaned up the path also.  I dumped out 2 bowls with ranunculus that just wilted from the heat.  I won’t try them again.

July 30:  Cool!  12:00-5:00   What a relief.  I planted 8 Butterfly Plants—7 in the Pink Rhody bed and one in front of the house.  Pulled a lot of groundcover and deadheaded.  Also plucked the lower driveway rhody as far as I could reach.  My stool seat split apart.  I may order a 16″ stool even though that’s high for me.


illustration by Carol Inouye

July 31:  11:30 to 4:15  Cool and cloudy  What a relief.  I spent all this time pulling the small strawberry plants, trimming them, and heeling them into trays.  There are still quite a few left but I may have to move on to other jobs—such as tomato cages.  When I quit working today it had clouded up and actually looked like it might rain.





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Three of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  When these diaries began, she and my dad lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a 10,500 lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  (He died in June, 1995.)  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden and berry patch.  Between the house and the vegetable garden were the greenhouse and the large workshop building.

1997 (age 73):

June 3:  Another rainy day so I puttered with house plants.  Then I potted the 3rd planting of Ed Hume’s tomato seedlings.  41 Early Girl and 43 Pik Red.  I put them under lights in shop.  I used the 10″ paper cups that Don gave me.

June 4:  The tomatoes I potted look pretty good today.  Picked first strawberries then started weeding the berries and asparagus bed.  Went to bed at 9:00 PM.

June 5:  11:00-5:45!  Spent all that time on my little stool [a cut down 4 legged wooden stool] pulling weeds from asparagus bed and along the back.  The stool threw me once onto my back hitting my head on ground but no after effects.

June 6: Today I planted the Walla Walla onions—one fill row next to the row of scallions from last year.  Then I planted tomato plants in one row between winter cabbage and strawberries.  There are scads of green berries.  It’s supposed to be sunny days coming up which should ripen them.

[Later she added this note:} My WW onions did not grow at all because I didn’t water them.  I had planted tomatoes right up to the onion row and when I watered I tried to keep the water off the tomato leaves so the onions didn’t get much water.  Must separate better next year.

June 7:  Two years have gone by since Bruce died.

I picked the weeds I pulled using the garden cart from Don.  Then I weeded in front of compost box, next to raspberry row (both sides) and picked strawberries.  The Ft Laramie plants have huge berries like the ones from California but they are hollow in the inside.  I went to bed at 10:00.


illustration by Frank Fretz

June 9:  9:30-5:00  I used the garden cart for one load of split wood from Wilson’s yard.  The cart is a little awkward but will be ok I think.  Then Daryl had his truck over there loading the wood in and I asked my new neighbor, Frankie, if it is ok to back truck in her driveway which we did—all in one load.  Then I saw Walt cutting more wood so here we go again. In the eve I picked strawbs again.

June 10:  I got 8 pkgs of berries that  picked last night.  Spent from 11:00 to 5:00 planting perennials from Gordon’s (last fall) and petunias and fuchsias (in baskets). [My mom’s one misspelling, which I have corrected all along, is fuschia for fuchsia; I made the same error till around age 50!]  Then when I thought I had everything planted, I found another square tray of dianthus.  I lost quite a few of the fall plants because I didn’t get them planted before.


Gordon’s Nursery

June 11: Another day of puttering.  Picked strawberries in a misty rain—got another 8 Sealameal bags for the freezer.  Sorted the various boxes I brought up from the garage sale.

The Jazz lost—MJ 3 pointer with seconds left in the game.

June 12: 49th Wedding Anniversary.

I got a late start but did some good.  I moved tomato and snapdragon flats to greenhouse and put them under lights.  Finished planting the dianthus into the deep pots.  In the fall I will put them out in flower beds.


illustration by Frank Fretz

June 13: 10:30-4:45 Long day.  The Bulls won NBA title again. I set more tomato plants outside in a double row.  These were the ones from the first planting that were too small to plant earlier.  Picked berries—a full bowl (the deep yellow plastic bowl).  Used Safer weedkiller on dandelions in front ditch and lower driveway.

June 15:  I heard Walt’s chain saw again cutting wood in his yard, then he went over next door and cut more but didn’t feel like going over there.  I went out back and picked berries again (10 pkgs).

In Bruce’s things from the shop I found a love letter written to him in January 1946. This girl (woman?) met him in Nov ’45 and he apparently came home from the war in Dec. and left her loving him.  For some reason I can’t get her heartbreak out of my mind.  That was 2 years before I met and fell in love with him.

[Here’s the letter:]






June 16: Several peonies are blooming for the first time.  Don came and brought $30 from sale of linens and plane and asked for $25 for clock (3) repair.  He moved TV in garage so I can get cart in thru small door. After he left I pulled weeds from patio (those tall ones with tiny yellow flowers).  Weeded PRFB pulling mostly the little green plant.  Now I need to plant some seeds in there to fill up blank spaces.

June 17 Rainy  Went out to pick berries but got rained in after 4 rows so I went to bank, Payless, and market.  Then finished picking berries—very dirty berries from rain splashing dirt on them.  Then decided to light off the full burning barrel and I weeded in that area for over an hour while papers burned.  Then I washed, hulled, and sliced berries but will package them tomorrow.  I’m exhausted!

June 18: Prepared yesterday’s berries—8+ pkgs.  Worked in garage—cleared off plywood table and moved plywood over against the wall.  I boxed up the leftover stuff from garage sale for Skyler and Robert to take what they want.

June 19: Picked berries.  Used Safer weed killer on tam ditch and lower driveway.  [Noted later]: The Safer weed killer didn’t kill those weeds at all.

June 21: Now the days are getting shorter.

June 23: 11:00-4:30  I started loading chopped wood from Wilsons.  Darryl drove his truck over and we moved it all in one load.  Then I worked on tam area [flower bed formerly covered with juniper tams] weeding.  There were some dandelions 4′ tall.  I pulled a huge amount of weeds.  I came in exhausted so had a root beer float for dinner then later had cereal and berries.  Walt said he has more wood to chop for me.


illustration by Frank Fretz

June 24:  I moved the plants (asters?) from the “salad bowl’ to the tam area and PRFB-W.  Picked berries.  The June bearing strawberries are getting fewer.  I have over 50 pkgs of strawberries for my breakfasts in the winter.  Watered baskets.

June 25:  I goofed off Wed, Thurs, and Friday.  I’ve been in a deep funk ever since I found that love letter to Bruce written to him 51 years ago.  I can feel her heartbreak.

June 26:  Didn’t accomplish anything except picked berries including some raspberries.  Kathy Tye stopped by.  They did sell their place and have moved over close to Debbie.

June 27: Bruce’s 81 birthday.  Again very depressed.  I’ve been thinking of Bruce constantly.  Maybe when June is over with all its reminders I’ll be ok again.


illustration by Frank Fretz

June 28: 2:00-4:00  Finally I went outside and accomplished something besides picking and taking care of berries.  I planted a double row of tomato plants, some odds and ends varieties and also quite a few Pik Red and Early Girl from my 3rd planting.  Now I need to pot up the rest of those plants to get them in good soil and I hope Skyler will take a lot of them.

June 30:  Picked berries and new weeder. It works pretty good.  It slices weeds at surface, but it doesn’t get the roots.  Then I started putting the tomato plants into gallon milk jugs.  These are the seeds I planted in the 10 oz cups that Don gave me.  I may set out more of these tomatoes in the garden cause I hate to throw any away.

1998 (age 74)

June 1: Noon to 5:00  Gray and comfortably cool to work   I spread two black tarps on the garden area.  I pulled some weeds from that area that look like cabbage but where did they come from?  I move around the tomato plants removing the dead ones and added more soil to each one.  Then I actually planted the old dahlias.  Now if I can remember to mark them (if they bloom).    I then weeded the area around the apple tree (which is loaded with apples). There were two snakes in that area.


illustration by Carol Inouye

June 2: HOT in afternoon!!  Noon to six  I finally got those tulip bulbs (from the tubs and pots) planted in the garden area next to the onion and asparagus bed.  Boy I’m glad to have it done.  Then I planted seedlings into pots—the next move will be to plant them into the various bowls.  The next main job is to start planting the perennials that are on the picnic table.

June 3:  2:00-5:00  I was late getting outside and couldn’t decide what to do first.  However, I started checking begonia basket hangers.  I repotted a few bulbs into other baskets.  I actually was able to hang the baskets. When I get the pot wire I ordered from Charlie’s I should be able to hang all the baskets.

June 4:  It was gray but would have been a good day to plant the new perennials.  However, I thought I should get more annual seeds planted for my color bowls.  So I planted from about 11:00-7:00.  Tomorrow, I’ll take more trays out to the shop.  In the evening, I sorted and threw out a lot of magazines and catalogs.

June 5:  Sit down before you read this.  I vacuumed and dusted today! The Pines yard sale is tomorrow and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Don.  [He had helped her organize a yard sale the previous year.]  I started cleaning up the utility room and cleaned out the closet.  I needed to change the electric broom bag and managed that but the upright grabbed one of Tabby’s toys and I had to change that bag but couldn’t.  I guess I’ll have to wait for Bill.


Illustration by Carol Inouye

June 6: Well Don didn’t show as I really thought he would.  72 degrees.  I replanted three trays of violet leaves.  I watered houseplants.  I watered outdoor plants then planted the rest of the “little bulbs” and planted some other plants in various bowls.  Then it was too early to come in (4:15) so I weeded two rows of berries and picked 5 ripe ones.  First berries.  When I decided it was time to feed Tabby it was 6:15.  Quite a productive day.  As soon as I get the 6 new gro light bulbs from Charlie’s I’ll call Bill to do several jobs in one day.

June 7: Al’s birthday [her older brother who lived in Seattle] and 3 years since Bruce died.  I still miss him so much.

The Jazz were getting blown out when Mary Anne came over.  She put on Tabby’s halter and we went out on the porch by the shop.  However, Erik and a friend came over and Tabby bolted.  I figured she was under the shop.  Mary Anne and I kept calling and she came out from under the shed.  I think she was glad to see us.  Mary Anne said I should get another halter with a wider strap.  I called Al to wish him happy birthday.

June 8: 11:30-5:15 cloudy in AM and then sunny

Another good day.  I worked to 3:00 finishing weeding and cultivating the berry rows (that’s the job I started last Friday).  I transplanted some seedlings.  I moved trees around in the shop and raised the two end lights.  That helped.

June 9:  2:00-5:30 grey skies   I was late getting out tho I was awake at 7:30 and got up ar0und 8:00.  I goofed around in the house.  I took Tabby out on her leash—I think she likes it but I have to figure out a way to tire her so I can get something done.  I planted some plants in bowls, I put taller seedlings in pots till they get tall enough to set out.  I planted several begonias in tubs—the ones I don’t know if they are basket or upright.

June 10: I intended to take some trays to the shop but I set them out on the porch until it stopped raining.  So I started planting seeds.  Something seemed to pull me over the card table.  I planted seeds until 10 PM.  Then I had some ramen noodles for dinner and spent until 1:00 AM sorting the rest of my seeds.  I still have gobs left to plant.

June 11:  11:00 to 4:45  Another good day’s work.  I worked in the shop dumping the trays of planted seeds that didn’t germinate—most of them were old seeds.  Then I started on plants on patio—mainly so I can get the saw horses to move the tomatoes out of greenhouse.  I put several dianthus in large bowl.  Planted some other plants in tam area.  After dinner I planted more seeds until 9:00.

June 12:  72 degrees  I had the first big picking up strawberries.  It took an hour and I was hot so I came in and took care of the berries and then planted more seeds until 9:00.  The Jazz beat the Bulls so it isn’t over yet.  Game 6 is on Sunday.


illustration by Carol Inouye

June 13: 11:00 to 5:00  I watered plants in shop and then intended to put sawhorses behind house, so I can move tomatoes out so I can move seedling trays into greenhouse.  I found myself planting mums in tam area then weeding patio bed and UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed] areas.  I pulled several plants of geraniums that have taken over, then planted mums and some asters in those areas.  This was a good week as I worked outside every day.

June 15:  11:00 to 6:00  It took me until 3:00 to pick, rinse, hull, and slice strawberries.  I put 5 pkgs in the freezer.  After a short rest I went out again.  I moved the various bowls over the the cover of the wood box so I could move the tomatoes out of the greenhouse.  Now I’ll move out some seed trays to the greenhouse starting tomorrow?

June 16: I went through the trays to move out to the shop the ones that have germinated, then I went out and decided I had better start planting the perennials from the picnic table.  I planted a lot in the UDFB and patio but there seems to be no end to them.  Maybe if I work on it tomorrow I can finish.  I’ll be so glad to get them in.  Then comes the fun of putting the annuals into my various bowls.  I had a headache all afternoon but two Excedrin and a shower and I feel better.

June 17:  Watered hanging houseplants.  Spent another 4 hours picking and preparing strawberries.  I used the Ho-mi to loosen weeds and cultivate the plants.  [My favourite garden tool…I must have given her one.]  I’m pulling the small plants that are producing small hard berries.  I took Tabby out about 5.  She nosed around in the lower driveway while I pulled waist high weeds.  Tabby started fussing about the harness so I took her in.


illustration by Carol Inouye

June 18: Got a perm so now I’m set with short hair for the summer.  Also went to bank, Rite Aid, and QFC.

June 19:  I picked berries again. Not very many this time.  I keep pulling the small plants, mostly the ones from the row next to the asparagus row.  Then I worked planting plants from the table.  I dumped a lot of pots of seeds that didn’t germinate in the house and shop.  These were old seeds so I’m surprised at how many did.

June 20:  HOT  I went out to pluck my pink rhody and then I found myself with a shovel digging and pulling out that purple geranium that had taken over all the beds.  I removed a huge number of plants.  That bed looks a little bleak.  I think I’ll direct seed some of the annual seeds in that area.

June 21:  I went out to turn the water on the berry patch and saaw so many ripe berries so I picked them and then watered on Sunday!  Then I had breakfast and retired to my crossword puzzle.

Now the days start to get shorter.

June 22:  Noon to 5:00  I planted more perennials.  Then I started planting annuals into the bowls that I had planted the small bulbs in.  The ranunculus were coming up—the first time.

June 23:  COOL  It rained during the night so everything got a needed watering.  I picked quite nice amount of strawberries, enough for 5 bags in freezer.  And I picked the first raspberries.  The row is very full so I should get a lot of berries this summer.  However, the canes are so thick it is going to be hard to pick them.  I’ll probably be cussing them before I’m done.

June 24:  Cool rainy day.  Since I’ve been itching to plant some seeds I started to plant perennial seeds.  I thought there was just a few till I found another box.  I planted from noon to 7:00.  There are still lots more but I’m running out of room again.  I’ll check tomorrow to see what I can move out of the way.

June 25: Ditto

June 26:  More seeds.  The kitchen is a mess.  I moved germinated plants from the shop to the greenhouse, then I move several trays from house to shop.  Picked berries again.


illustration by Carol Inouye

June 27: ?

June 28:  It was hot enough that I put away my Sunday puzzle and went out to water the baskets and tomatoes etc etc.  Too hot to pick the berries.

Next January, I am going to try ordering only short annual seeds for color bowls and only a few special perennials.

June 29:  Sunny beautiful hot day.  I am determined to finish planting these darn seeds so I planted from about 10-2.  There are still some odds and ends such as need to be soaked, etc.  I separated the rest to show when they need to be planted such as late summer, fall, etc.  I then moved more germinated plants to greenhouse but no more room in shop.  I picked berries after 7:00.

June 30:  76 degrees  I started to plant tomatoes in the “salad bowl’ but it was too hot.  I separated the Determinate and Indeterminate and made new labels for each one.  I’m going to try to record how many of each type I plant and the first tomato so I can know at the end of the season which ones are the best.









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My mother began these diaries when she and my dad lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a 10,500 lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden. Bruce died in June 1995, as shared in the previous post.


illustration by Carol Inouye

1997 (age 73)

May 5-11:  I was busy most every day in yard.  8 hours over 3 days to weed tam area [flower bed that once held juniper tams] and driveway.  Cleaned up patio and spread two bags of bark.  (I need more.)  Worked with Don pricing stuff in [Dad’s] shop.

May 12:  Moved boxes and boxes of my pots etc from garage to shed to make room for yard sale stuff.  Weeded in patio flower bed.

May 13:  Started weeding in lower driveway.  Brought the begonia baskets that were nearly blooming out to the porch.  Also brought the “window boxes” out.  Moved the pots that were through blooming and made room for begonias on RR ties.  [Stacked ties formed the edge of the patio.]

May 14:  Brought the spring bulbs, dahlias etc from shop to porch, made labels, etc.  Should be planted ASAP.  Weeded more in lower driveway.

May 15: Started planting spring bulbs.  Put 4 o’clocks in UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed] along RR ties; lilies in front of white rhody; giant cannas in PRFG-W [Patio Right Flower Bed West??].  Pulled a lot of sweet woodruff in front to make room for dahlias.  Planted crocosmia and something else in PRFB-W in front of giant cannas.

May 16: Don hung 17 baskets on front porch.  We finished the rest of the big room—pricing items, etc.  He brought me $280.00 from sale of misc books, jewelry, etc etc.


illustration by Frank Fretz

May 17: Basketball—The Sonics lost Game 7 at Houston so now I’ll start rooting for the Jazz with my favorite player Jeff Hornacek.

May 19: Robert’s birthday—Omaha Steaks.  Drs appt and errands—dentist office, vets for Tabby’s Advantage, Tim’s for Rx and Gordon’s [Nursery].

May 20:  ?-5:30  Dahlias were my #1 job for today but it was raining.  It cleared up in early afternoon so I went out and got all the dahlias planted!  Then I started pulling the bedraggled forget me nots, the yellow invasive plants and sweet woodruff.  I am going to plant some seeds in front to see how they do.

May 21:  10:30-5:00  Don and I worked about 3 hours in the garage going through the NW corner sorting stuff for garage sale.  When he left, I worked in front weeding out the sweet woodruff, etc.  I think I have about 4 or 5 wheelbarrows to add to the compost pile.

May 22:  In garage moved my garden stuff into empty NW corner.  Moved boxes of priced stuff over to east wall.  Planted the rest of sprouted upright begonias and one more basket. There are about a dozen of Dutch Garden begonias that haven’t sprouted.  I’ll write to them about it.

May 23:  Don 12:00-3:00.  We sorted the rest of the boxes from garage shelves.  I found some pink dishes that might match Skyler’s dishes and several pieces of colored glass to put on kitchen shelf over sink.  Sorted through flower seeds for ones to direct seed.


illustration by Frank Fretz

May 24:  After going to the store, I worked outside.  I planted Freesia by the Hydrangea; caladiums in a container.  In the front of the tam area [formerly juniper tams, now flowers, by the road], I planted 100+ anemones, Pulmonarias, and the new mums, also the yellow daylilies (Stella D’Oro) from Raintree last year.  I came in at 5:00 shaking from exhaustion.

May 26: Don brought his friend Bill (with truck).  Don took the treadmill and bike in exchange for his week’s work.  He and Bill set up tables in garage.

May 27: For the rest of the week, Don and and I took stuff for sale from the house and shop and arranged them on the tables and shelves in the garage.  We sure got a lot of stuff!  I took a lot of dishes, etc from the hutch.  We ended up with 10 or 12 “free boxes” of stuff not good enough to sell but good enough to offer free to anyone who can use it.

May 30:  We are all set up for the Nisqually Pines garage sale and we are both tired.  I hope the weather is nice.


illustration by Frank Fretz

May 31:  Garage sale today and tomorrow.  Horrible day, cool and heavy rain but the people came in droves.  We sold a lot of stuff.  There are 70 Pines yard sales.  People seemed intrigued by our “free” boxes, some taking one or two items and some the whole box.

[Continuing into June for narrative flow:]

June 1:  We thought there wouldn’t be many people today but there were quite a few.  We knocked prices down quite a bit.  All the 3 or 4 cabinets (from old TV sets) sold right away.  Still have 3 TVs plus the 2 “sold” to Skyler.  It was colder today but less rain.

June 2: Paid Don $120 for his work Saturday and Sunday and all last week.  Don traded me a garden cart for the Dremel Hobby Tool Kit.


illustration by Carol Inouye

June 4: I sorted stuff left over from the sale and put in 4 or 5 medium boxes for Skyler to go through to see what she might want.  I called the man from Rainier Trading Post and he came over and took all the remaining “free” boxes plus the remaining books and magazines.  I put the car back in the garage.

1998 (age 74)

May 1: Store day because I had to go to Tim’s to pick up a prescription.  So I went on errands to hardware store, telephone to pay bill, to Gordon’s to get some more fuchsias amd I bought a 6 pack of tomato plants!  Also to QFC.  I received a back ordered box from Parks and my order from Bluestone Perennials.  I did accomplish paying bills and the laundry.


May 2:  9:30-10:00  Finished planting tall dahlias in tam and UDFB.  It was cool and cloudy.  12:30-3:00 Watched Sonics win the first round against the Timberwolves.  They now must play the Lakers.  3:00 to 6:00 Weeded the tam “ditch” next to the road that was loaded with dandelions.  I came in and fed Tabby, took a shower and had a bowl of Frosted Flakes for my dinner.

May 3:  I actually did some plant work today.  I started checking my violets after watching 3 basketball games.  I  cut back several plants (now I have about 50 leaves to root).  I repotted 3 trays of violets.  I even worked after the 11:00 news.  I wasn’t sleepy so I potted till 1:00.

May 4:  11:00 to 5:45  Gray skies and cool.  All that time spent potting the recent Spring Hill and Bluestone orders.  I have 2 or 3 days of work getting dahlias and glads planted so I decided I’d better get the mums and dianthus into pots.  It’s a good thing I did.  The Spring Hill dianthus were really rootbound.  They probably appreciate more room.

May 5:  I worked planting the low dahlias in the tam area till 4:00.  Too early to go in so I started weeding next to the raspberry row.  Tall dandelions loaded with seed so I’ll see them all again.  I left a huge pile of weeds to pick up tomorrow.  I got another Spring Hill order so I’ll do more potting tomorrow.  Then the glads are next to be planted.

May 6:  Gray skies cool breeze.  Another busy day.  I took the white hose in the shop and watered all the tomatoes and begonias [under lights].  It worked pretty good.  Also watered in greenhouse and strawberries.  I potted the new mums and 10 butterfly plants.  I shuffled trays around in shop and put the 2 trays of begonia seeds from house to under lights.  I took out three trays of tomato plants to plant into milk jugs but did not get them done—too busy.  [She cut the tops of plastic milk jugs and grew tomatoes in them in her greenhouse, with drainage holes, I assume.]

May 7: I planted the 100 “special offer” glad bulbs—all red and white.  I planted some in patio bed in background and the rest in tam and pink rhody background.  My back hurt by 3:00 so I left the rest of the glads for tomorrow.  I got my stool and pulled weeds in the upper driveway along the road till 5:00.


illustration by Carol Inouye

May 8: 11:00-4:15 cool and gray  I finished planting the rest of the glad bulbs all over till 2:00.  I didn’t want to start anything new so I pulled weeds in the lower driveway until 4:15.  Next is to plant 1997 dahlias and “pot” tulips in garden area—then the small bulbs into path and then tomatoes.

May 11:  I just goofed around after sleeping late.  The weather is cold, which would be good to plant but I didn’t feel like it.

May 12: Still cool and rainy so I started checking my violets.  I reduced the width of the plants by removing the outer two rows of leaves.

May 13: DITTO  I continued removing violet leaves and soon ran out of glasses to root them in so I tried a new way.  I used two trays each with 8 of the 5″ pots each with 9 sections.  I filled trays halfway with water and filled each section with my peat moss and vermiculite plant mix and then put 4 or 5 leaves into each section.  2 trays with 8 pots = 16 each pot with 9 sections = 288 each section with 5 (or more) = 720 leaves.

May 14:  Errand day—Tims for a birthday card for Robert [her son in law, my spouse at the time], post office, and QFC.

May 15: Still cold and rainy so I worked in kitchen planting seeds.


illustration by Carol Inouye

May 16:  Ditto—watched (listened to) two basketball games while I continued planting seeds.  I have 10 flats in the Floralight and a couple on bathroom.  Marianne Binetti wrote that it’s ok to bring fuchsia and begonia baskets out.  So that’s my project for next week. [Mom was a great admirer of Marianne Binetti’s gardening column in the newspaper.]

May 18:  Fairly warm—some sun.  I moved the 4 petunia baskets (temporarily) and fuchsia baskets up to the front porch.  I can hang the ones with rigid hangers—the hook can go over the rod instead of in the “S” hooks.  But I can’t hang the baskets with the chains.  Then I started potting tomatoes into various milk and bleach jugs.  I got 25 done before I had to come in to watch basketball—the Jazz beat LA.

May 19:  I decided to plant some of the petunia seeds concentrating on the basket petunias at about two and I got tired of sitting so I went out and started repotting tomatoes and pepper seedlings.  Alan came over and was real interested and he planted some tomatoes and sieved the seed in the wheelbarrow.  He said he would hang my baskets next week.

May 20: cool-rainy.  I had the blahs today.  I really didn’t want to go out but I did around 2:00.  I potted some tomatoes and needed more room in the greenhouse so I dragged the “window box” begonias out.  (Don’t ask me how I managed that.)  I replaced the tubs of tulips with the begonia boxes.  Then it started raining.  I also moved several trays of tomatoes to the greenhouse to be repotted (maybe tomorrow).

May 21:  I brought out all the baskets that are growing good.  I managed to hang several of the baskets with rigid hangers.  I worked again potting tomatoes.

May 22:  12:00-5:00  Worked all that time planting tomatoes.  The greenhouse is jammed.  I had to stop twice to sift compost and mushroom compost.  All the black pots, milk jugs and bleach jugs are full.  All the tomatoes are out of the shop finally.  I started throwing some away but there are about 10 left of misc varieties that I’ll plant.  Next job is to plant tulips in garden and replant begonias in the tubs.

May 23: Cool wet dreary—too lousy weather to go outside so I planted seeds—for several hours.  I keep switching trays between heating mats on the card table and Floralight.  The Jazz swept the Lakers.


May 25: Holiday.  Planted more seeds.  Also I put the remaining violet leaves back into jars and glasses.  I needed the plant mix.  Enough of the leaves had rotted that I was able to get them all into the jars.  Some had started to root.  I planted 55 packets of petunia seeds many of them 1995 and 1996. The Pacers beat the Bulls.

May 26: Store day—Puget Power, Tim’s for Rx and QFC.  I had a baloney sandwich and ice cream for dinner.  I planted some seeds in early evening.

May 27:  Cool and rainy.  I started about 10:30 to plant seeds and quit at 9:00 with time out for dinner.  I have about 20 flats 3 deep in Floralight and on card table etc.

May 28:  12:30-5:00 beautiful day  I started bringing trays of begonias and seedlings out of the shop and then took trays from the house into the shop.  Then I sieved mushroom compost into the garden cart and sieved compost soil (mud) into wheelbarrow.  Then I dumped the bulbs and soil from the tubs, etc, and washed them out so I can plant begonias and other flowers in them.

May 29: cool  12:30-4:30  It tried to rain but only a few drops so I stayed out.  I planted sweet peas near a rose trellis.  Planted some begonias in wooden tubs.  These are the ’96 bulbs that I didn’t label so I don’t know if they are upright or cascade.  I planted some of the “little” bulbs in bowls.  I quit early because I was tired and I wanted to eat before basketball game.

May 30:  I planted more seeds in house.  I didn’t feel like going outside.










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gdiariesThree of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  When these diaries began, she and my dad lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a wooded lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden.

Because of the events of these two months of 1995, I am publishing the two months together.  The gardening entries of June ’97 and ’98 will appear separately.

Illustrations by Marcie Hawthorne

1995 (age 71)

May 4:  Went to Lacey to check out new tillers.  Ended up at the Troy-bilt tillers.  It will cost over $1000 but it is what I’ve always wanted.  We will probably trade in the Mantis if we can get a decent price.

May 5:  Started veggie seeds in house.  Used plastic domes on two of the trays.  Planted cukes, celeriac, asparagus (seeds) and lettuce, pepper.

May 8:  Took plastic dome off the tray of cukes which were in bathroom planter on top of the heat mat.  Several of the cuke plants were 2 1/2 inches tall in 3 days!  Switched trays around to get two others on the heat mat.

May 9: My new Troy Built Junior was delivered.  It looks so big. Rainy day so I worked in greenhouse.  I’m still repotting tomato seedlings.

May 10:  Pulled broccoli plants that had gone to seed.  They are to be shredded.  Potted the rest of tomato seedlings in greenhouse.

May 11: Store day.


May 12:  Repotted cuke plants.  They are so tall.  I’m not sure they will survive transplanting.  If they don’t I’ll replant direct in garden.  Planted several pots of last year’s marigold seeds into plant trays in greenhouse.

May 18:  11:30-5:00  HOT  Watered berries and some in front flower beds.  Planted Sunnyslope carnations in PRFB:W [Patio Right Flower Bed West??] edge,  I need more!  Also weeded in driveway keeping in shade.  Started squash seeds and brought them in to place them on heat mat.


May 20:  1:00-7:40 with time out to eat.  HOT  Spent almost all afternoon planting flower seed (finally).  I love doing this job outside so it doesn’t matter if I’m sloppy.  Then I spent the evening sorting my seeds into: Do now, do next, do later i.e. plant in fall, winter, etc.

May 23:  Bruce in hospital.  He went to “lung” dr who put him in the hospital for irregular heart rate.  I did some watering and repotted one tray of SG chrysanthemums (hoping to delay planting them until later).  It took over 3 hours to repot one large tray of plants.  Will do more tomorrow to keep my mind busy.

May 24:  All alone and lonesome.  And worried.  Spent the day working on houseplants.  I have to keep busy.

[Note: The hospital was in Olympia and she had never driven in city traffic; in fact, after learning to drive, she had not driven in 8 years.]

May 25: Bruce is home.

May 26:  Noon to 8:30  Finished repotting all the chrysanthemums and a few tomatoes.  Moved most of the begonia baskets out to the front porch and back porch.  Some bulbs aren’t growing.

May 29:  1:00 to 8:30 with time out to eat  Spent the time planting flower seeds.  I’m trying to just plant perennials and leave the annuals till next spring.  I set up one sprinkler hose to water strawberries and onions planted in the asparagus bed.

May 31: Bruce still in hospital.  He said he could come home tomorrow.  I put out 2 steaks to celebrate.


My note: The empty bench is so apropos for this entry.

June 1:  Started to clean up tam area [flower bed that once held juniper tams].  Dr. Elledge called with “bad news” about Bruce.  He got up to go to bathroom and fell hitting his head then fell into a coma.  This is the worst day of my life!  After much time trying to arrange a ride to hospital, I called Tyes [neighbours a few blocks away] and they took me to hospital.  They did a CAT scan of Bruce’s head and discovered blood on the brain—some old.  They operated and drained blood.  He was put into critical unit.  When I saw him he had tubes running in almost every opening of his body.

I stayed in the Sunshine House on hospital grounds.  I spent 10-12 hours in Bruce’s room, talking to him.  On Saturday, they thought he was responding a little by making a fist and moving legs.  In meantime, I spent time highlighting my new Seed Starters Handbook.  One nurse brought me a couple of garden magazines.  All the people at the hospital are wonderful, especially the lady chaplain.  I spent 2 nights at the Sunshine House.  The first one I slept 2 hours and 6 hours the second.

June 4:  Today they did a routine test on Bruce to check his lungs.  Evidently he has a little pneumonia.  He was very unresponsive today.  Tyes picked me up and came home.  They drove the Toyota home from the clinic.  It was awful coming into an empty house.  God, if Bruce dies I don’t know what I’ll do alone.  I miss him so much.  I’m afraid of life alone.

June 5 (Monday):  Today I got involved in paper work and didn’t even go outside.  It was cool and windy.  The social worker called to see how I was.  I am going into hospital Wed with VM so Suzanne will reserve a room for me at the Sunshine House.

June 6 (Tuesday) :  I planted a lot of seeds today because it seemed to be the only thing I could do.  (and none of them grew.)

June 7 (Wednesday):  Now this is the worst day of my life.  Bruce died today (on my brother Al’s birthday).  Dr. Bodin called to tell me Bruce wasn’t responding and it might be best to discontinue life support as Bruce probably won’t get any better.  After they took away the breathing machine, Bruce breathed on his own for about 6 hours until he “slipped away”.

She wrote on the next page:  The next month is a mess.  I didn’t write down most of what  did during this time.

June 12: Our 47th anniversary and Bruce is gone.  He was cremated today.

June 13: Tyes took me to grocery store.  I have to relearn how to drive.  I absolutely cannot depend on Tyes to take me places.  [Where she lived was at least a couple of miles from Yelm with no bus service.]

June 15 (Thursday):  Skyler and Robert came up today through Sunday morning.  I have an appt at 10:00 to see attny Perez to find out what needs to be done re settling Bruce’s estate.

June 16:  I saw the attorney and became very upset.

(I don’t know what I started to write here.)


“I have no idea what I did this week.”


“All these days are a blur.”






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Three of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  When these diaries began, she and my dad lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a 10,500 square foot lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden.  Her life story (obituary) is here.  Her story in her own words is here.

1995 (age 70-71)

April 3:

Received the Dutch Gardens spring bulbs.  Unpacked and sorted them.  Made some labels.  I was very surprised to find I had ordered 2# each of red and yellow onion seeds.  Where to put them?

April 4:  Replanted all tomatoes.  Put them in two trays each on top of a new heating mat.

April 6:  Bruce took down the two 3-tier baskets.  I added more plants from the Floralight [3 shelf plant gro light table].


drawing by Frank Fretz

April 9: Some of the tomatoes in the bathroom are sprouting.

April 10:  The replanted tomatoes sprouted real good under lights and on top of two new heat mats.

April 11: Worked in greenhouse.  Moved fuchsia plants under the 2nd light.  Planted 6 primroses into the new shallow planters.  I want to get some pansy plants to add to it. I put those 2 plants under lights.  Also brought two tomato plants to greenhouse real close to light to see what happens.

April 13:  Got my drivers license renewed for the second time so it’s been 8 years since I’ve been behind the wheel.  I don’t understand it!  [She learned to drive at age 62 but didn’t like doing it.  My dad did not encourage her to drive.]


drawing by Marcie Hawthorne

Received the really good rooted cuttings—beautiful ones.  The carnations were especially healthy.

April 14:  Bruce has to go in to hospital X Ray for another lung scan (no blood clot).

April 15: Went through Floralight to try to find room for tomatoes.  Moved 8 or 10 trailing violets into terracotta planter and put it on top.  Planted Gloxinia bulbs into pots as houseplants.


drawing by Frank Fretz

April 17:  Bruce still sick and I have a cold, the first one since I started getting flu shots years ago.  Rec’d Foster Farms order all in excellent condition.  Only one broken.

April 18:  Drs appt (Bruce) and glucose test (me).

April 21:  Wasted whole day waiting to go to the store.  Bought 12 pansy plants from Gordon’s [Nursery].

April 22: Finished planting 9in pots) the rest of the Foster Farms.  Planted the pansy plants in baskets.  Planted the fuchsia plants in baskets.

Put up two bird houses as swallows are looking for their home.

April 24:  Planted the 4 bags of red and yellow onion sets 4 rows east of path and the rest in rows in asparagus patch.  In the fall till the asparagus bed and next year plant veggies in that area.  Started planting the new begonia tubers in “window” boxes and pots.  [The quotations are because they were window boxes not actually installed under windows.]

April 25:  Another wasted day except:  Moved planted pots of Forest Farm plants out of greenhouse to make room for begonias.  I’ll have to cover them with something as it’s supposed to get close to freezing tonight.

April 26:  Finished planting begonias in baskets and pots.  Was able to get them all in by moving Forest Farm plants outside.  Next big job is planting the dahlias.

April 27: 1:30-4:30  Cleaned up the tam flower bed [used to be juniper tams], weeded, deadheaded some, removed mulch and put it all in bags to be shredded someday.

1997 (age 72-73):

April 7: Took Tabby to vets for booster shots.  I got the Advantage flea killer stuff—supposed to kill fleas in 24 hours and last for a month.  $8.00+.

I cleaned out a lot of branches and cones from patio bed so now I have another pile.  There’s still a lot to clean up in driveway and front flower beds.

April 8: The GE repairman came and said the dishwasher motor is shot.  I’ll not be in a hurry to buy a new one.  I spent several hours transplanting tomato seedlings into individual pots.  Put the flea stuff on Tabby.


April 21:  about 2:30-6:00   It was warm enough to work outside.  I planted the 2 astrantia replacements from VB in the patio bed next to RR ties.  [Mom was very proactive about getting refunds for any mail order plant that was not good.  I’m guessing the catalog was Van Bourgondian.]  Planted the 10 raspberry plants that have been potted since Feb.  Then cleaned weeds out of RB row and the path between RB and SB rows [raspberries and strawberries].  When I quit and came in it was 6 and Tabby was starved.

April 22:  gray and damp.  Went out to plant strawberries but ended up working on one row moving new daughter plants from middle of row and trimming and/or replanting other plants within the row.  After about 2 hours I was rained in.

April 23:  Planted some flower seeds in APS.  Brought wood in.

April 24:  From about 12:30-5:00.  Planted strawberries.  I thought I was done but just before I quit I found another tray so I guess I’ll plant them tomorrow.   I also planted the pots of Gordon’s perennials from last fall into trays.  Most of the dianthus were ok but some of the others didn’t make it though the winter.  I am exhausted.


drawing by Marcie Hawthorne

April 25: 1:00-4:30  Planted the rest of the new strawberries.  Then I dug the plants between the 2 Tristar rows and trimmed them so now I have 4 trays of Tristars to plant.  I’m going to plant the small ones in one of my square trays.

April 26:  11:00-4:00  warm and sunny  Planted the Tristar daughter plans in 3 rows except the small ones which I put into square tray.  That job took until 5:00.  Turned on garden faucets.  Watered strawberry rows.  Then started weeding the pathway until I quit when I was exhausted.

1998 (age 73-74)

April 1:  Cool and gray but dry.  I planned to work on strawberries but the front beds are choked with two persistent weeds so I worked all afternoon in the tam area.  [former juniper tam bed turned to flower bed]  I weeded about a five foot wide area along the front and into the ditch in about four hours bending over and using my stool. MaryAnn came over to visit about half an hour and Darryl stopped by to talk.

April 2:  This morning Tabby was limping putting no weight on back right leg so I took her to the vets.  They seemed to think she had jumped on the [wood]stove and burned her foot.  While there the vet treated her with antibiotics for a 103 degree fever but she jumped off the table so I guess her foot is ok.  When we got home I weeded in the PRFB-So.  [Patio Right Flower Bed??] It looks nice with a lot of low red tulips.  Then I worked on strawberries until I got rained on.

April 3: ??

April 4:  noon-4:45  I was determined to finish digging the strawberry plants but when I quiet at 4:45 there are still lots left.  I got rained in to the garage 2 or 3 times.  Tabby seems ok but I’m having trouble getting the medicines into her.

April 6: Again I was determined to finish the strawberries and I did.  I have 24 flats of plants and each one must have about 50 plants.  I even dug up the 1 1/2 rows that I had interplanted with new plants.  They needed dividing so I took them up.  Now the entire garden can be filled on Sat.  I also pulled the multiplier onions and put them on a flat.

April 7:  1:00-3:00  It was cold enough to wear a jacket but warm enough to sweat.    I only worked two hours when I felt sick probably still tired from yesterday and only 4 hours sleep.  I managed to weed some in patio and moved most of the pots of perennials up to the picnic table  I gave up and came in and went to bed from 3:00 to 6:00.

April 8:  11:00-4:45  Ron the tiller man stopped by to see if I can leave the leaves, twigs, etc to be tilled into the soil.  It was too deep so I spent the rest of the afternoon picking all that stuff and piling it on top of the old compost box which means I won’t be able to sieve that soil for baskets, etc.  When I stopped at 4:45 I was so tired I went to bed till 7:00.

April 9:  Worked again in garden area digging dandelions, weeding the rest of the asparagus row.  There still is a little raking to be done before Ron comes on Saturday (weather permitting) to till the whole garden area.  I also finished weeding bulkhead while watching for the mail to come.  I didn’t have to go to bed when I quit working today.


illustration by Marcie Hawthorne

April 10: Rainy   I was going to go to the store but I went to the [Nisqually Pines] office to pay dues and then came home and spent the afternoon planting Burpee tomatoes.  I also planted tiny “like dust” begonia seeds, some were from 1995 so I don’t expect much from them.  I’ve got to start planting seedlings but where will I put them?

April 11:  Ron McCamment tilled the garden area from the raspberries to the asparagus for $50.  While he tilled, I pulled weeds in the driveway.  Later I planted the 12 Purple Wave Petunias into 4 baskets.  I had to quit when it started raining hard around 2:30.  Later the sun came out but I had changed into dry clothes so I didn’t resume my work outside.

I’ve got to get started planting my spring bulbs, seedlings, dahlias, etc, etc and all those strawberry plants!

April 13:  Gray, cool, and rainy   So much for dedicating all this week to planting.  I had to go to the PO to mail my tax payment, etc.  Went to drug store and QFC.  But the time I got everything out away it was too late to work outside so I cleaned out the top shelf of kitchen pantry.  I moved all the canned fruit into that shelf.  I also found a case of 1993 canned tomatoes—two were spoiled, ugh.  [We found the same phenomenon when we cleaned out her home here in 2009; we think it is a food hoarding phenomenon from the depression area, that she could not resist cases of food items on sale.]

April 14:  Rain, cool   I planted some seedlings in the greenhouse, some tomatoes, leeks, jicama, etc.  I put them under two lights with the 4 baskets of Purple Wave Petunias.  I think I will start planting the sprouted begonias and some sprouted lilies tomorrow.

April 15:  Sunny, warm  I decided I  had to get the strawberries planted if I hope to have some in June.  I worked from noon to 4:00 to plant 3 rows using 6 or 7 trays of plants—and I have 29 trays of plants!  The soil is loose from the tilling so it’s easy to plant them.  I’m planting the rows close together because I have so many plants.

[I feel I must insert an editorial comment that tilling has fallen out of favor now for reasons explained here.]


illustration by Marcie Hawthorne

April 16:  12:30-4:30  Worked 4 hours again on the strawberries and only got 3 rows.  It seems like I’m poking the plants in fast but it takes quite a while to plant these wide rows.  Al [her brother] called tonight and we chatted quite awhile  Skyler called, too. [It was mom’s 74th birthday.]

April 17:  11:30 to 4:30  5 hours today and still not finished.  I have 10 rows done and probably can finish tomorrow.  The berry plants in the two square trays are huge.  I think they are the first ones I dug from the rows by the asparagus.

April 18:  I worked on the strawberries 2 hours and got rained in.

April 20:  11:30-5:00!  warm  I finished planting all the berries.  After I put stuff away I found another flat of plants.  I added them to the last row.  I have worked 17 hours planting 11 wide rows of plants.  I replanted the onion plants that I dug out so that Ron could till that area.  After all the above I washed more than 30 trays.

April 21:  Dentist appt 1:00 for a filling.  The dentist office asked me to change appt to Thurs due to emergency in other office so this day is shot.  I called in $150 Bluestone order—mostly mums.  I cut the tulip flowers in tam area.  There are lots of weeds again.

April 22 noon-5:00   I worked all this time transplanting tomato seedlings into pots using compost with mushroom compost.  When I thought it was 3:00 and I came in to take a break and was surprised to see it was 5:00 so I closed up shop and came in.  Rec’d the fall Dutch Gardens catalog!

April 23:  Rain, cold   I got my #2 tooth filled but they said it isn’t strong and if it breaks again I may need to have a crown put on.


illustration by Marcie Hawthorne

April 24:  cool—rain—hail  I was going to put tomatoes but it was too cold so I started planting seeds in the kitchen.  I mostly planted low annuals for my color bowls.  I planted from noon to 8:30 with time out to eat.  Tomorrow I should take the new trays to the greenhouse—there’s not room in shop until I pot up the begonias.

April 25:  I slept till 11:00.  I worked out about 2 1/2 hours.  I tried to put new bulbs in shop light but it fell out twice so I gave up.  I finished transplanting the tomato seedlings (at least I thought I did).  After I put everything away I saw another tray under the light near the freezer.  Some of the plants I potted were small but I have so many I potted them, too.  The next job is the begonias!

I turned on the NW garage faucet.  I forgot to close the greenhouse faucet and I got doused.

April 27:  11:00-5:30 WARM   I worked all afternoon planting begonias in boxes and baskets.  There is another day’s work to finish.  I took time to scrape the labels off about a dozen of the white baskets.  I didn’t do that last year because I was anxious to get baskets filled.  It is supposed to be hot all week.

April 28:  11:30-5:00.  Ditto from yesterday.  All the baskets are full.  I think I have 22.  I have 3 trays with 15 or so bulbs that I will put into the various tulip pots when the tulips are done.  Unfortunately some of these bulbs were not labeled so I won’t know if they are trailing or upright until they bloom.  I must label these begonias this summer.

April 29:  I slept late again.  It was hot by the time I got out.  I finished washing many many pots.  I had to pull the drain pipe completely off.  The pipe from the sink was plugged with vermiculite.  [I am sure she meant the big sink in the large “shop” building.]


illustration  by Marcie Hawthorne

I weeded in patio bed and cut back the tulips that were done flowering.  Also got the 30 lilies planted in PBB [Patio Bulb Bed], NDFB [North Driveway Flower Bed] and PRFB-W [This one still mystifies me..Patio Right Flower Bed West?].  Next is the dahlias.

April 30:  11:45-5:00  I started dragging box after box of dahlias.  I had them all over the shop.  I planted tall ones in PBB [Patio Bulb Bed] and UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed].  I put the pompoms and ball dahlias in the PRFB center ’cause I’m not crazy about them.  Why did I order them?  I still have about 60+ tall ones to put in back of the tam area but it was too hot to work there in the sun.  There are also many low ones to plant.












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diary illustrations by Carol Inouye

Three  of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The other three got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  When these diaries were written, she lived in her retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a wooded lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington.  A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden.

1995 (age 70):

Feb 1:  Rain. Spent most of the afternoon on plants in Floralight.  [African] violets have multiplied like rabbits.  They’ll have to be cut down some way.  And I know I can’t throw a plant away. AND I ordered more seeds.  Tsk tsk.

Feb 2: cool/dry.  Split wood for kindling and brought in quite a bit of wood—piled on porch.

Feb 3-4: Started organizing veggie and flower seeds, putting them in alphabetical order


Feb 11: Supposed to be below freezing by tomorrow so: Finally I spread mulch on as many flower beds as I could before I ran out of mulch and strength.  (I got very dizzy and nauseated.)  I used all 5 bags of shredded leaves from last fall and recent shredding.  The stuff in old burn barrel was all composted below 1/3 of pile.

Feb 16:  Finally got a nice enough day so I planted my new Stark Brothers apple tree in back.  Also planted replacement rose bush at northern end of bulkhead.  Finished trimming WPFB.  [West Patio Flower Bed]

Feb 22:  Planted new Stark raspberries (10).  Heeled in new Stark strawberries (75) and put in greenhouse under lights.  Then I started sieving compost box.  I’m throwing all stuff not decomposed on garden area to be tilled in later.  A good day’s work!!

Feb 23: Weeded asparagus bed.  Cut centers off the broccoli to make plants branch out.  Saved best pieces although a lot were mushy—probably from hard freeze last week.  Started sieving compost.  All containers were full so when 1/4 of new box was empty I started sieving compost into that end of box.

Feb 24: Continued above.  Now one half of compost box is sieved so I placed board in center and have 1/2 box filled 1/2 deep of lovely sieved compost.  Only have about 1/4 of box left to sieve.  There are hundreds of worms which I’ll toss back into box when its empty.  I am throwing the coarse stuff out into garden area to be tilled in when it’s dry enough to till.

Feb 25:  It took 2 hours to finish sieving the compost.  Half of the box is for use until the compost soil is used up (for baskets, tubs, etc), then the whole box will be used for compost.  I put into the box all the weeds etc that were pulled so far this year.  This leaves the old box available to store mushroom compost for next spring.

Feb 27:  It seems like I start all my notes with “Finally”.  Well, today I finally got the leaves raked up in lower driveway and behind house.  I used the trash bag frame with 33 gallon bags and it worked fine.  I have five bags to be shredded “someday”.

Feb 28:  “Store” day.  Watered houseplants.  I planted a lot of the tiny trailing begonias that I started from seed into one of the terracotta planters and set it above the Floralight [indoor 3 tiered lighted plant tray].  I’m curious if they will grow and trail.


1997 (age 72): 

Feb 1: Bill [hired odd job man who helped out after my dad died] fixed water leak in shop.  Repaired step on back porch plus other odd jobs.  It’s too nasty a day for him to crawl under the deck to see what repairs are needed.

Feb 3: Don brought more $ [from the sale of my dad’s toy train collection]. It’s dry but cold.  Too cold to work outside.

Feb 5:  Rec’d Park (catalog) flower seeds and the berry plants from Raintree.  Still too cold to work outside.

Feb 6:  Marked new Park seeds (with year, size, height, and when to plant) and filed them with other seeds.  I noticed that even with my 20 page inventory, I still ordered a few that I already have.  I’ll plant older seed and if they grow, I’ll save the ’97 seed for next year.

Feb 7: Only two hours!  It was a beautiful day!

Brought firewood up to porch.  First I had to move branches so I could get to the woodpile. I got the 100 new strawberry plants in trays under the lights in greenhouse.  I also planted five of the new raspberry plants but was too tired to plant the 10 left so I put them in soil in buckets.

Feb 17:  A warm day with some misty rain.  Finally I got the begonia bulbs in trays in damp plant mix and under lights in shop.  Also put pineapple lily and amaryllis bulbs in pots in soil under the lights.  I found four boxes of train stuff under the table that I bet Don forgot to take.

Feb 18:  Some of the tomato plants are up.

Feb 21:  I called Al [her older brother] and he sounded great.

Feb 22:  Worked about 1 1/2 hours bringing wood up to porch.  Finished all wood from west side of shop.  I put the wet ones on pallet boards behind shop and covered them with the tarps.  Also covered were the huge pieces of that  tree Mac sliced in half.


1998 (age 73):

Feb 2: I worked in back about two hours.  This seems to be my limit on hard jobs.  Finished spreading the mulch pile over the garden beds.

My Park seed order arrived so I started organizing them.  I got the year and the page # on them and arranged them in order by page #.  I think the Pinetree order should be here soon.

Feb 3:  Today is a beautiful sunny day and I accomplished nothing except making up my grocery list for tomorrow.

Feb 4:  I decided to wait to go to the store tomorrow.  I worked on the mulch pile again.  I tossed in a lot of leaves over on the garden area and dumped the 6 or 8 bags that I filled when Skyler and Robert were here, putting it on the garden area.  Then I filled 6 or 8 bags of clipped leaves for fall mulch.  THE PILE IS GONE.  Never again will I order a big pile of mulch.  I had to come in at 1:30, I was so shaky.  I ate 4 slices of toast and then went out again at 3:30.

Feb 6:  Store today—over $95.00! Included was a case of MMOJ [Minute Made Orange Juice] for 89 cents.


Feb 7: I weeded and raked the upper driveway and also cleaned out some old plants, such as glads, so the area will look more presentable when Skyler and Robert arrive tomorrow.  She has been in Seattle this week to attend the Garden Show.

Feb 8: Skyler and Robert got here about 6:30.  They had quite a hassle at the gate.  [Mom lived in Nisqually Pines, a suburban development that at that time had a guarded security gate.]  Even though I called the gate ahead of time, I guess they didn’t keep the message, and because I didn’t hear the phone the three armed security people wouldn’t let them in. They finally relented.  I guess Skyler lit into them. [Ha!  I certainly do recall firmly suggesting to them that if they would not let us through, they had better escort me to my mom’s house because her not answering the phone could mean she had a medical problem.  I think that is what convinced them.]

Feb 9: Robert did a few minor jobs for me.  Then we all worked on bringing firewood up to the porch.  They emptied all the last year wood from the shed and brought up quite a lot from behind the shop.  Now that the shed is empty I will be able to put in there the cut up wood from all the branches (when I get them sawed up).

Feb 11:  Got an apple pectin perm from Lois [a neighbor].  Store doesn’t carry the Ogilvie perm so I went back to the Apple brand.  It turned out nice.  It’s such a relief to have it short and not blowing over in the wind.  I got another case of MMOJ.

I don’t remember what I did yesterday.

Feb 16: Doctor’s appt today.  I’ve gained 8# since my last appt.  Glucose test ok so I don’t need to resume taking the diabetes medicine.  When I got home I changed into my garden clothes and worked outside 3 hrs.  I removed the tarps from the garden area to use on wood to be delivered tomorrow.  Then I got the recycle stuff ready.  Then I weeded the bulkhead area and planted most of the bulbs that came out of last year’s containers.  They have been in boxes in the greenhouse all winter.

Feb 17:  11:45-4:15!!  YES I DID!  I finished planting the bulbs from greenhouse.  Then I planted the polemoniums that I dug last fall thinking they were hostas.  I planted some daffodils that were “lost” into the old “window box”.  Planted 4 plants that I set on picnic table and forgot.  Also had 2 cords wood from Corey’s Firewood delivered.  Now I must saw up the tree branches so I can pile the new wood.

Feb 18:  I planned on working with my begonia bulbs in shop but I stopped to mend my garden jacket and then I took off the hood and resewed the collar.  By that time it was after 4 so I built my evening fire and didn’t accomplish anything except repairing my jacket.

Feb 19:  1:00-3:00  Another good day’s work.  It was cool and grey so I worked in the shop putting the begonias from last year (and some from 1996) into pots with peat moss and vermiculite.  I used the sawhorses that Robert fixed for me and 9 of 10 trays are 7″ from shop lights.  3 or 4 bulbs showed signs of growth and only 5 or 6 were rotted.  AND I still have more to come from Dutch Gardens!

Feb 20:  I spent most of the afternoon mending my work jacket.  I took off the hood and then sewed up the collar w/o hood.  By then it was too late to go out to work.  [I wonder if there were 2 jackets or if this was a mixed up repeat post.]



Feb 23:  1:00-4:30  It seems I only do one or two days of good work each week.  Today I started sawing up the pile of branches that was along the shop.  I was so tired I felt sick but I got that pile cut up and about half of it into the shed.  Next is the branches that Skyler dragged over to the “raspberry” path.  Then the branches next to garage and in the driveway (from the mountain ash tree).  Then I need to start bringing in the two cords of wood from the upper driveway.

Feb 24: 12:30-4:30  Sunny and cool.  I finished sawing the branches next to shop and the ones Skyler pulled over to the “raspberry” path.  I got all the cut wood into the shed and raked the area.  I also moved some of the pieces that Don put into the wood box so I could close the lid.  Next chore will be to clean up the patio area and “under Bruce’s window” [her husband who died in 1995].  After that maybe later this week I’ll start bringing up the new wood.

Feb 25:  Too tired to do much today.  Penney’s called and will install the new curtains and valences tomorrow so I had to move all my plants away from the windows.

Feb 26:  The new sheers and bedroom valences were installed.  The sheers are really full (almost too wide).  The bedroom drapes are nice especially in B’s room.  The valences in my room are really pretty.  I spent the afternoon putting my plants back where they belong.

Feb 27:  Didn’t get to sleep till after 4 AM—then slept till almost noon.  My Dutch Gardens order came today, 5 boxes, $806 worth.  Now I really have my work cut out for me.  I must get the begonias potted and pot up the various perennials roots etc and get them under lights.




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Ginger’s Garden Diaries

Three  of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016.   I am so deeply thrilled to have them.  The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009.  She possibly did not think them worth saving.  I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here.  I plan to incorporate her entries into my 2016 journal, as her days from 20 years ago correspond with mine, and then to gather all the entries together in some way.  I’m catching up on all of January since the idea became possible when the diaries were found in mid February 2016.

My mother and grandmother impressed me with how hard they worked on their gardens as they got older, and as I approach that age with startling rapidity (and with the hope of getting there), I’m even more impressed.  My mother’s main focus was her vegetable garden, although she did grow flowers.  My grandmother’s was mostly ornamental with a few tomatoes and green onions thrown into the mix.

My mother and father had retired in 1977 to a large lot near Yelm, Washington.  They had been weekend gardening there since about 1970, living in a small trailer.  After moving, they had a two bedroom manufactured home installed.


My dad, Bruce, in ’72 in their weekend garden

Bruce died in 1995; Mom moved to the beach to be near us in 1999 and stopped keeping a journal.  I find it touching to read her diaries of the years after he died.  (I wish I had the 1996 one.)  She was isolated, without friends except for one neighbour across the street, and had only lived alone for a couple of weeks in her entire life before he died.


mom in her greenhouse, sometime in the 1980s

Ginger’s Garden Diary, January

illustrations by Carol Inouye

1995, age 70

Jan 3 : Brought wood in.  We’ve used all of the 2nd delivery of firewood.

Jan 5: Immersed myself in seed catalogs to order seeds—veggies and flowers.

Jan 6-7 DITTO

Jan 9: Seed catalogs again

Jan 10:  Finally chipped all stuff that’s been in the truck for at least two months.  (Bruce is taking truck to have new gas tank sensor installed—then we’ll sell truck.)  We put the chipped stuff in old compost box.  We didn’t use screen in chipper so it’s pretty coarse.  I’ll put mushroom compost over it so it will rot by fall.

Jan 11:  Ditto from Monday.  Have mailed orders to Pinetree, Seeds of Change, and Harris Seeds so far.

Jan 12:  More of same.  Spent a fairly nice day inside adding up Parks order.

Jan 13: DITTO  Mailed Parks and Territorial and Burpees orders.

Jan 14:  Finished Dutch Gardens order.


Jan 23:  I didn’t feel like doing it but went out anyway.  Finished planting tulips.  This leaves many many alliums and a few odds and ends of small bulbs.

Jan 24:  Planted bulbs mostly alliums.  I think I can see the end of them—probably one more day of planting.  Then I will start cleaning up flower beds and yard which is a mess of leaves, cones, branches, etc. etc.

Jan 27:  Beautiful sunny day.  50+.  Finished planting fall bulbs.  The anemones, ranunculus, and ixiolirion will be planted in spring.  Tied up roses, morning glories, and spirea along back porch.  Started cleaning up juniper tam area, scratching up soil where I’ve been walking over past few weeks.  I left maple leaves as mulch for now.  [Note: a couple of years later she turned the “juniper tam” bed into a flower bed.  I seem to recall that Robert and I helped pull out the shrubs on a trip to visit there.]

Jan 28: rain

Jan 30: Sun/Showers   Only worked outside about an hour.  Raked upper driveway.  Dumped the leaves etc in garden until all leaves are picked up. Then I (we)’ll shred them.

1997 (age 72)

Jan 12: Don Rolstad has been coming out to work on Bruce’s train collection 4, 5, or 6 days a week.  [Both my dad and my mom’s brother collected valuable toy trains; a year after my dad died, my mother decided to sell his collection, in preparation for looking for a new home in Long Beach.]  Several times he has brought along a friend to help him.  He has also kept my firewood rack full.

Jan 18:  I brought up enough wood to fill the rack on the porch.  [It was a LARGE rack, as I remember filling it after mom moved to Long Beach.]  It took seven wheelbarrow loads.  I mail ordered for veggie seeds to Pinetree, prepared from their 1996-97 catalog.  At the same time as the order was picked up by the mailman, the 1997-98 catalog was delivered.  There are a lot of changes in price, etc, and some of the items are not even in the new catalog.

Jan 19:  Don and his son-in-law took all the remaining train stuff.  He said he hopes to get $12,000 for me.  That’s more than I thought the whole collection was worth.  He’ll take a lot of Bruce’s trains to the train meet in Seattle next Sunday.

Jan 20:  I finished the flower seed inventory—21 pages.  Then I went through the Pinetree new catalog and prepared that order.  I suggested to Pinetree that they return veggie seed order so I can rewrite it from their new catalog.

Jan 21:  Prepared a “Simply Tomatoes” order.  Their prices are 50% higher than Pinetree but I ordered some varieties that PT didn’t list.  I also prepared order from Raintree Nursery.

Jan 22:  Spent most of the day preparing Park Seed order.

Jan 23:  Most of day on paper work.  A revolting development—I figured I’ll owe $542 in income tax because I lose over $4200 of exemptions and deductions that we got when Bruce was alive.

Jan 24:  The pipe under shop [large outbuilding] sink is leaking badly.  I called Bill—he’ll come tomorrow to check.

Jan 25:  Bill turned off shop water and hot water tank.  He’ll come next Sat to fix it and do other jobs.


Jan 27: Watered house plants.

Jan 28:  Don brought more than $3000 in cash and many checks for trains.  Now the telephone isn’t working—it has a broken wire.  I brought the shop phone into the house.  Bought two new cords for the house phone so it will reach my bed.

Jan 29:  Worked about two hours cleaning up the wood and branches in front and was completely exhausted.  There is now a huge pile to be shredded plus more on patio. Maybe Bill will start the chipper for me on Saturday so I can do it while he does other jobs.

Jan 30:  Doctor appointment re arm.  He discharged me as his patient.  [She had fallen while pulling out old tomato plants in the previous autumn.  Robert was in the middle of putting a roof on a client’s house at the time so we were unable to go help her for two weeks.  I think this is one of the main incidents that had inspired her to begin to prepare to move to the beach, near us.]

January 31:  Mac’s Tree Service shortened a lot of branches in both fir trees and removed some big broken branches.  He had to climb the patio tree to reach them ($30 extra).  Also cut down the mountain ash tree.  He cut big chunks of wood in half for me.  I sure have a lot of branches etc to be chipped.

1998 (age 73)

Jan 1:  I spent most of the day watching football.  Washington State lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Jan 2:  I finished listing my flower seeds so I will know what not to order when I get the Pinetree catalog.  I wait for it to order from first because the prices are the best, then I check through the Park Seed catalog.  However, I won’t need to order many.  I want to plant a lot of annuals in the plastic terra cotta bowls to have “color spots”.

Jan 5:  JC Penny Custom Decorating catalog came out.  I ordered $1800 worth of drapes for bedroom, drapes for Bruce’s room, and new sheers for the four front room windows.  I had to move all plants out of SE corner.

Jan 6:  Worked on moving plants back.  While I could get closer to the Floralight, I moved most of the small violets to the back end of the shelves.  [The three tiered Floralight plant stand now resides in a hallway at Golden Sands Assisted Living; the staff let my mom bring it with her when she moved in there in 2009.]

Jan 8: Store day [in Yelm, two miles away]: dentist, phone company, bank, Payless, QFC and NPCC.


Jan 11: First snow of the season.

Jan 12:  There is 7 inches of snow between front porch and shop.  It started snowing again at noon.  Worked on Dutch Gardens spring order.

Jan 13:  Still cold.  Lots of snow on the ground.  Rec’d Pinetree seed catalog.

Jan 14:  Rained most of day.  Mailed Dutch Gardens order.  Worked on Pinetree seed order.

Jan 25:  Mailed Pinetree seed order.

Jan 16:  I started going through the Thompson and Morgan seed catalog marking some that I’d like, but I probably won’t order seeds from them.  I sure don’t need them!  And they are expensive!


Jan 19:  Today I actually accomplished something.  After I got the recyclables ready, I took the stuff to be burned to the burn barrel. I also took the big box of juniper tam branches to the barrel and burned them.  I figured they were so “scratchy” it would hurt to use them in the wood stove.  While the stuff was burning I brought wood up to the porch.  Quite a few pieces were wet from rain even though the pile was covered by two tarps.

Jan 20: Store day.  Did some paperwork—paying bills, etc.  Rec’d the New York Times Crossword Puzzle Dictionary.  It’s really good—has huge listings, by country, of authors, painters, etc.

Jan 21:  I went to bed at 12:15 and woke up at 11:15.  I puttered around in the house—didn’t accomplish much.

Jan 23:  I removed from the box of flower seeds those that need to be refrigerated after planting and also picked out the seeds that can be planted anytime.  Hopefully I can start planting these seeds next week.

Jan 24:  After the Sonics beat the Lakers I celebrated by cleaning the refrigerator in the shop (where the soda cans exploded0. It was a mess.  I got the veggie tray and two shelves out.  I had to sit in it to reach the back.  It started ok.  Now I have to plant these seeds that must be refrigerated for 6-8 weeks.  I must soon get the begonia bulbs in moist peat moss.


Jan 26:  Sunny and fairly warm.  I had lots of things I should be doing.  Instead I puttered around inside until it was too late to go out.  [I am so like my mother in this way!]  I got part of the Park Seed order.  The packets of seeds should come soon. The order was over $500.

Jan 27:  I spent the afternoon watering houseplants.  [She had many.]  Also I potted up the rooted stems of plants that have been in water in the bathroom.  Also repotted the Aloe Vera into four pots.  It has more than doubled in size.

Jan 28:  I actually accomplished some work today which amazed me considering I went to bed at 3:00 AM and slept until 1:00 PM!  At about 3:00 I went out to see what I could do, thinking I’d saw some of the tree branches.  [Most of my staycation days end up with the same time pattern.] I ended up trimming the many hosta plants but then it was too late to replant them so I did some weeding on the strawberries, then brought wood into the house from the porch.

Jan 29:  I worked one hour spreading the pile of stuff that we couldn’t shred because it was too wet.  I picked out the big stuff and ivy from the pile and spread the rest over the veggie area. I don’t know if it will decompose enough to be tilled in March or April, otherwise I’ll have to move it again!

Jan 30: I worked two hours on the pile today and then came in and laid down two hours.  That’s hard work spreading that stuff.  Never again will I let stuff pile up like that.  If I can’t put stuff in compost box, I’ll burn it.


Jan 31:  It was over 50 degrees today.  Today was a beautiful day but I didn’t do anything!  [By “didn’t do anything’, she probably meant that she read and did crossword puzzles during the day.]


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