Archive for the ‘journal’ Category

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

We were glad to being the day quite late in the morning.

Allan’s photo, too early!

By the time we started work, we had a calm, not windy, and not too cold day to begin the spring clean up of the Howerton Avenue curbside gardens and the port office garden.

across from the port office

the little dog who lives on the Rum Runner

Iris reticulata ‘Eye Catcher’ in the port office garden

Howerton by Port Office, before (Allan’s photo)

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan hurt his ho-mi.


after trimming lavenders (Allan’s photo)

The “drive over garden”:


and after, with santolina trimmed

I got Allan to tackle this mugo pine, which is too big and I think will be removed this year.


before (Allan’s photos)

and after

Some new signage at the Ilwaco pavilion:

The bed by the pavilion, from which we had had some large shrubs removed last fall, had responded with lots of little weeds.  It’s tedious to weed big bare areas that don’t have cool plants filled in yet.



I am 99% percent sure that the two stumps of wax myrtle will revive and can then be kept low.

I got to meet the owner of this truck, which I’ve admired parked in Long Beach.  She says it has been officially tested to be sturdy and roadworthy.

We planted some Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ in the CoHo Charters lava rock bed.

Allan’s photo

I am going to get some white heathers, just three (or one!) to match up with the white heathers at the other end.  I had told CoHo Charters’ Captain Butch that I just could no longer stand the boredom of weeding plain lava rock.  So I have permission to make it more interesting.

Finally, we tidied up the bed by the old Wade Gallery, which is soon going to be occupied by David Jensen’s architecture firm.

before (Allan’s photos)

and after

Allan got some photos of a view in a city employees area at the east end of the port.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

We planted a few starts of Solidago ‘Fireworks’ at the boatyard garden.

Allan’s photo

We’ll be back to this garden before long to trim the santolinas.

Allan’s photo

The weather turned unpromising. Shortly after starting work on Howerton, we sat out a squall.

Soon, though, we were back at it.  Allan took all the rest of the gardening photos today.

I stood up fast and my back went so painfully SPROING that I had to go stand against a wall for awhile to straighten up.  I had run out of Ethos 2:1 tincture a couple of days ago.

weeding a curbside garden



We clipped grasses and santolinas and did considerable weeding down by the new Skywater art gallery and the Freedom (marijuana) Market.  I shopped, too, and bought myself some more Ethos 2:1 in hope of fending off more back pain.  I talked to the Freedom Market manager about how last year, little plant starts I put in their shop garden got stolen.  This year, they have better security cameras and so I have tried again.

In the curbside gardens:

unseasonal daisies

That reminds me of how I made a composite photo last year of nassella (the grass, above) mingling with my hair.

tidied up


the sidewalk walk-through


A cold wind made the end of the workday uncomfortable.  We prevailed.  Allan weeded the Salt Hotel curbside garden and I noticed a project there for tomorrow.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Despite a cold wind, again, I was determined to finish Howerton today.  (Allan took all but two of today’s photos.)

We went back to Salt with some clumps of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, my go-to when I need some free plants to fill in.

Out came tatty old blue fescue, to be replaced with the sedums.

I could not help but clip some sword ferns in the Salt containers.

adding some sedums down by the Freedom Market

We did more weeding in the two westernmost beds (Freedom Market, Skywater), and I trimmed some more santolinas at Time Enough Books.

snow drops!

We had one half of the old Shorebank garden left to weed.  I had been gathering some of my good Eryngiums and salvias that were struggling last year in dry areas, and we put them into the Shorebank area that WE water.

Finally, all we had left was the easternmost garden bed.

I was too cold and busy to even walk across the parking lot and look at the marina.

view from the garden





I had suddenly decided that all the old nassella had to go, making this area a much bigger job than I had planned.



At home, Devery’s cat, Jazmine, watched Allan unhook the trailer.

Over the past three days, we have brought home so much compostable material that two compost bins have gotten filled to the brim.

North Beach Garden Gang meeting and dinner

We are getting back on schedule now with our regular meetings with Dave and Melissa (Sea Star Gardening).  It is satisfying and comforting to catch up with each other’s garden projects.

Tonight: [pickled fish] in Long Beach

hot and spicy brussell sprouts appetizer

cabbage and apple salad


in the foyer

The [pickled fish] is in Adrift Hotel. The owners of Adrift, Inn at Discovery Coast, and Ashore Hotel in Seaside are taking on the Shelburne Hotel. We are meeting with them tomorrow about the Shelburne garden, which I cared for between about 1996? and 2009?

Next day:

The work board shows some exciting news. Unfortunately, we are due for light snow, wind, and 20 degree weather (at night) through Monday. I’ll focus on my book lists postings and then:

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Monday, 12 February 2018

Long Beach

We began with the “little pop outs” on Ocean Beach Boulevard.  The lot by one of them has been cleared of shore pines.

That suddenly made the sidewalk popout to the south side of Seventh Street more visible, especially if this lot is going to be developed.

south pop out, before, with Allan working on the north one.

After. The mugo pine was wobby and rotten at the base, so it is gone. It had had to be pruned so much for traffic sightlines that I was glad of it.

North pop out before:



north little pop out, after moving rocks out to show more

We happened to see Parks Manager Mike in town and I was able to briefly ask him to get us a pile of Soil Energy mulch.

waiting for my moment

I look forward to the mulch, which I am now confident will appear.

Anchorage Cottages

Today we made our first wake up call to the Anchorage garden.

I am sort of trying to save a tree there: the gold one by the office.

I feel it is needed for verticality.  I also wish the old locust on the right could be saved, because it gives privacy from a big house next door.  There has been talk for awhile of removing the gold cedar, and I had even recommended the best tree service (Arbor Care in Astoria), and then I found myself brooding about the drabness that would result in the tree being gone and realized I had better take the cutting down plan more seriously.  I suggested that Arbor Care would be skilled at going up inside the tree and pruning out all the ugly dead parts and ugly stubby pruning.  Now there may be a chance to save it (and the locust, too, if I had my way.)

Looking up from below, the tree is not at all attractive inside.

Our friend Mitzu the Shitzu was having a spa day so we did not get to see her.  We did meet a fine and friendly and very good dog named Maggie.

sweet Maggie

I am pleased with how a patch of virburnums has filled in so nicely, as I expected they eventually wood after I pruned them down for legginess.

I’d like to see them at least a third of the way up the lower windows.


one of the four window boxes

window box crocuses

hellebore and ranunculus

small cupped narcissus

Long Beach

We remembered to clean up one more small bed at Minnie Culbertson Park.

clipping Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and then pulling a few weeds


At home, I was pleased to erase two clean ups from the work list.

We had time for a brief sit down before going out again to an Ilwaco city council meeting.

Our neighbour next door to the east, Jared, is now on the council, as is Missy, who lives in the next block.  Allan and I had no mission except to show quiet support for the mostly new council and the new mayor.

In the “comments from public” part of the evening, I was surprised to hear a citizen complain that Ilwaco was not lit up well enough for Christmas.  For a tiny town of under 1000 people (929 in 2016), I think we are doing well to have our crab pot lights on First Avenue, and our crab pot tree, lights on the lamp posts on both Howerton and Elizabeth, and beautiful wreath-and-candle lights at the fire station and library and city hall, not to mention the several private homes with lavish displays on Spruce Street.  I thought of how Jenna and Don and Allan and I had decorated and undecorated the crab pot tree and pondered later that volunteer opportunities must be publicized more.  That part of the  meeting inspired some pondering about how instead of criticizing, positivity has better results.  I was sadly reminded of when I was an incomer, new to town and full of ideas—the same ideas, often involving what people should do with their private property, that have been stated by incomers like me over and over again.  I had to go hide out in my little house behind the boatyard for awhile to live it down.  I figured out then that the best thing I could do to improve the town was to create some beauty, and that’s when I imperialized (with permission) a strip of weeds at the boatyard and created the boatyard garden, and later created the post office garden.  (The boatyard turned into a paid job after it was removed for an electrical line and had to be re-created; the post office is still volunteer.) I had thought of doing a low maintenance bed at the new playground, with ornamental grasses and tough perennials, but no one took me up on that one.  I had another big idea about walking around in winter staycations to pick up trash…and then my knee went wonky so that idea fizzled.  It would be a great volunteer community service for someone to take on.  I now have another little gardening idea in mind, one that has been brewing in my mind for a couple of years, but I am hoping to find some help with it.  More on this later, maybe.

My reading is going slowly because of working on my old book lists.  I have these lined up next:

Reading my old book lists makes me remember how I used to read almost exclusively for nothing but entertainment, decades ago.  For the bookish: I have been plugging away at my old book lists and have added several new posts, from 1986 on,  here.

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Sunday, 11 February 2018

We decided to work on the downtown Long Beach planters and street trees.  I had big ideas that we would also get to the Anchorage Cottages garden and then get rugosa roses cut down in the beach approach garden by the arch.

As I began with the southernmost planters, Robert (wasband and former co-gardener) bicycled up and we had an interesting chat, reminiscing about our friend Lily who died some years ago of ALS.


My mission was to trim back any Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ still standing and to clip santolina hard so it will make a nice round ball instead of getting rangy.


after; this planter has too much of a boring little hardy geranium but is not one I plant to re-do.

crocuses in a planter

crocuses and an iris reticulata

santolinas, before

an after from across the street, because I forgot…



Would be huge escallonias that we cut back hard by the pet shop last fall are leafing out:


After clipping and tidying in eight planters and three trees, I re-joined Allan who had been working on a difficult tree garden that whole time.

before, with an unfortunate batch of rugosa roses

Those roses reseeded into there, and I thought, years ago, how cute, and let one or two stems bloom.  Oh, what a mistake…and yet it does look pretty when blooming in summer.

after; unfortunately, the roses will come back.

after; will this be the year we prevail?

I notice every time I come to a clump of narcissi and find flower stalks picked.  (Deer are not the culprits here, although they might be with tulips.)

Why not leave ALL the flowers for all the people to enjoy?

It was not a pleasant weather day, with wind that became increasingly strong and cold.

not feeling comfortable

Another street tree job by Allan:


after (the stems are a hardy fuchsia)

In another tree, we worked on eliminated all but two corners of Geranium ‘A.T. Johnson’; I planted too much of it way back when I had a low budget, and it was free (for good reason).



sidewalk display at The Wooden Horse gift shop

In the last two blocks, the wind was much colder and stronger.  We were determined to finish.

We cut back these chrysanthemums, with foliage undamaged because of our mild winter.

Allan cut down the other two escallonias that are crowded into a planter.



I came along behind him and trimmed those green santolinas hard.

At home, I was able to erase the Long Beach downtown planters from the work board, and added the Pop Outs (little gardens on Ocean Beach Boulevard).

There may be a reader who is wondering when Kite Museum will appear on the work board.  It finally got added on Feb. 14th!

It took hours after work to finally feel warm again.




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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

We were able to start work today because Don of Peninsula Plumbing got our leak fixed in quick time.  It had been caused by the way the new washing machine had been hooked up. That was careless of the washing machine deliverers and hooker uppers.

As always, we began the work year in:

Long Beach, Fifth Street Park

The very minute that I got out of the van, my back went SPROING.  I took two Doan’s Back Pills and stood against the nearest building to straighten up fully; fortunately, I was not out for the count.

NW quadrant, before, with a guy eating lunch and the first cute dog of the work year.

I mostly did the SW section, although Allan cut the big grass and helped out toward the end.

4.5 hours later



I very much want to get the hesperantha (formerly schizostylis) kept to just one area instead of running all through the garden.  It has gone rampant because of our mild winter and was tedious and frustrating to (try to) eliminate from the main part of the border, which is also infested with wild garlic.  Will this be the year I finally get it under control again?

Deer have been visiting this garden.

deer poop on the garden cut-through sidewalk

A woman came and chatted as I worked about how she can now only garden in window boxes, after fifty years of gardening.  I suggested she get someone to bring her a picnic table and bench and then plant up a tabletop landscape.  I recommended this book:

She liked the idea.

She told me for awhile about how the healing power of the earth was coming up through the soil to fix my knee and how a certain pink stone which I could purchase right next door at Marsh’s Free Museum would solve my physical problems.  I finally expressed my skepticism.

Meanwhile, Allan was working on the SW quadrant.



after (Allan’s photos)

This small corner area in the SW quadrant is so damp that I do let the hesperantha reign freely there, except that I like to thin it hard in springtime.

before, Allan’s photo

The problem with so much hesperantha needing pulling and the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ needing clipping is that two precious clumps of camassia got clipped, too.

after, with me brooding over the camassias.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

With every intention of working, Allan hooked up the trailer.  I put the kibosh on work when I went outside and felt the cold and dreary drizzle.

As I sat reading, a knock at the door produced a member of the Ilwaco city crew.  He had come to tell us about his upcoming repair job on the ramp railing at the community building, and that he would have to move a clump of bulbs.  I wish all workers were as thoughtful!  As it happened, Allan and I were going there that day, Allan to the library and me to sort out my shingles hospital bill, so we told him we would move the clump of bulbs.

He had left a stake to show us where. (Allan’s photo)

iris reticulata and crocuses at the community building

I did get the bill sorted, in that the hospital will re-bill it with my insurance card, and I learned it had been over-billed, so it will now “only” cost me $200 (instead of $450) for a brusque 15 minute urgent care shingles visit and a lab test.

in the lobby of the hospital

With that done, I could enjoy an afternoon and evening of finishing a book, one which I had been reading in the late evenings for two nights before.

Not long ago, I read Kitty Burns Florey’s book about sentence diagramming and more, Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog.  In it, I had learned of the diaries of Dawn Powell, a novelist of the 1930s-60s.

Today I immersed myself and finished to the end.

Here are just a few favourite bits of Dawn Powell from my happy return to the staycation mode.

About her nervousness and phobias:

This passage about the death of her darling cat had me in tears over my Smoky; her experience was so much like mine, except that we did not let Smoky die at home.

She did get another cat, because years later she writes while traveling of “a feeling of homesickness for my cat.

Here is a valuable thought, if you have ever wondered WHY in the world you had been friends with someone who turned out to be just mean:

“I wonder again how we could ever have been friends, although friends are like food—one’s palate and capacity and preference changes with education, travel, ulcers, and better opportunities for choosing.”

About censorship of books, which spoke to me because of my parents forbidding me, as a teenager, to be allowed to read books from the adult section of the LIBRARY (!!):

On solitude, in which she longs for five hours of it a day:

Decades later, she had upped it to eight to twelve hours a day.  I get the same craving.  Fortunately, Allan and I rub along pretty quietly together at home.  During staycation, I crave not just twelve hours but two weeks (dare I confess to wanting even more) of solitude from everyone but Allan.

I think one of my happiest winters was one of complete solitude, on my own in my cold little house behind the boatyard, reading in front of the single source of heat, a glowing space heater.

Dawn Powell wrote diary entries for many years about ideas for a book that never came to fruition, about a world where cats were in charge and humans were the pets:

Years later, still thinking about “Yow”:

She was ahead of her time for the second wave of feminism; this was written in 1952:

On aging:

She died in 1965, not even making to 70.  I felt bereft when I came to the end of the diaries.  I still have novels of hers, and a biography to read.

Having dipped back into one bookish day, I was told by the weather forecast that we would be back to work tomorrow.




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reading in 1992

Reading and life in 1992

I began the year reading a lot of young adult fiction, looking back to books and authors I had liked.  Why Not Join The Giraffes? was a book I’d liked in school (probably because it was about a youthful rock band). I had a new Anne McCaffrey Dragonriders book, and had to read it, having had years invested even though I was tired of the series.

As usual, I can’t comment on books I’ve forgotten; my bad memory does not mean they weren’t good.  I usually give them three out of five stars on Goodreads just to be nice.  (Giving a rating gets me into the “add a date read” page.)  A lot of the books I read were obscure enough to not be in Goodreads.  The site will let you add a book that isn’t there.  If you can’t find a book on Goodreads, find it on Amazon or elsewhere and snag the ISBN or ASIN number and put that in the Goodreads search box.  Hint: If all you wrote down in your old booklist is the title Shoulders, with no author, you and the book are out of luck.)

I read 27 books just in January, with a lot of them being easy reading.

Below: I read a couple of books by K.M. Peyton, who had written the excellent Pennington series that I had read in 1988.  Of favourite authors, I read a Miss Read and a Fay Weldon.

I read What to Expect…, as we were expecting a baby in mid June.  I did not know how we were going to manage.  I could not picture Robert being the sole breadwinner.  He was working with me on my cleaning jobs, and some clients were hiring him for his handyman skills.  I imagined us carrying a baby to our housecleaning jobs and wondered how that would work out.  (My clients doted on us….but still.)

The not fully titled book below is The Girl Who Got All the Breaks and was one of those books so obscure that Gooreads has nought to say about it.  Feral (about dangerous cats) got such bad reviews that I am assuming I did not like it.

Finding a new-to-me Miss Read, especially in the Thrush Green series, made me happy.

Below: The Small Mosaics of Mr. and Mrs. Engel was starred in my book list as one I quite liked.  It is a British novel so obscure I had to add it to Goodreads and all I know about it is that I liked it.

Ghosts I Have Been is a young adult novel that I strongly remember liking. Museum Pieces got stars on my list, but I cannot remember it. Goodreads tells me it is about a marriage ending and is set in Santa Fe. So many of these books that I would like to reread are not in the library catalog.


I did not care if my child was perfect, but I had to read Miss Manners’ Guide to Raising Perfect Children because I love her.  “The precocious child will abscond with it when his elders nod off, and master the information for his or her own purposes.

Something in the Wind is apparently an obscure Lee Smith book.  I’ve never read a book of hers that I did not love.  The Garden is Doing Fine is a good young adult or children’s book about a girl dealing with the impending death of her father.

When Hello Means Goodbye is the definitive book to give to someone who has suffered pregnancy loss.


In February, I had an amnio; we already knew from ultrasound that our impending child was a boy, and had decided to call him Devon.  The amnio was something I was pressured to do because I was 36.  That night, I was tired, but Robert and I were going over to Chris (my wasband’s) house for dinner.  I should have cancelled.  No one warned me to rest.  I had been told that amnios cause a miscarriage  2% of the time.  That seemed so small to me; it could not mean it would happen to me.

Not only was I tired, but when we had dinner with Chris, he told us in a rather delighted way (because of the intrigue, I guess) that Heartbreaker P from ’87 and his girlfriend of one year were buying a house just seven houses up the street from my house.  This gave me a sleepless night, and to this day I connect that with the miscarriage I had two days later at 18 weeks (after twodays in bed with a fever, trying to get better). I had the lousiest of medical care because my medical insurance did not include maternity, as was common back then.

Robert and I went to Tower Books, where my good friend Chris D worked (a different Chris, who had given me the wonderful John Hassler books and who was a voracious reader).  I asked him to please find me everything he could about miscarriages, and he did, and I bought them all and read them one after another.  Going to work was painful and exhausting but I had to do it.  As soon as the day was done, I retreated to hot baths, bed, and books.

To this day, I am anxious every time I know someone who is pregnant until that baby is produced safely.  When someone offers me their new baby to hold, I decline because I fear the emotion.  I have an envious feeling about people who are in an economic position to have a baby without worrying about how they will care for it. And I am well aware of how old Devon would be.

The screenshots of book covers are in reverse order of reading.

The book without a cover image is Yesterday I Dreamed of Dreams: Poems, Letters, and Memorials Written by Parents for Babies They Love by Mollie A. Minnick.  What a beautiful title. The book with an incomplete title is  The Other Side of Pregnancy: Coping with Miscarriage and Stillbirth by Sherry Lynn Mims Jiminez.

I read the poignant AIDS memoir Borrowed Time in the midst of the other books.  It is still in my home library.

Thank goodness for the relief of the hilarious gay novel Eighty-Sixed.

The hospital midwife came visit us on her own time. She told us that in her opinion the amnio caused the miscarriage, even though the hospital would, she said, never admit to that. She entered us into a miscarriage study in which one half of the people would get three sessions of counseling and one half not.  A year later, we had a follow up questionnaire and later on we learned that the counseling helped…Of course it did!

Robert and I got married in a small ceremony in March, inspired by the scare of my being in poor health.

Robert, me, minister Dee Dee Rainbow, Tom and Barbara from Eugene, and Wilum; Bryan took the photo.

You can read more of my story about that time in this blog post, including some more photos from the wedding and the tale of briefly being in a band.

Still to Be Born and In Search of Parenthood reflect a brief quest that came to nothing.

A new Ruth Rendell and a new Barbara Vine (also Ruth Rendell) in one month gave much happiness.

I discovered Linda Barnes’ Carlotta Carlyle mysteries, which became favourites later on.  I still did not like Sara Peretsky.  I always liked a Fay Weldon. The Buddha of Surbubia got my highest stars for the year.  My best discovery was Beverly Nichols.  Although I read Down the Garden Path, it would be awhile before I went on a reading spree of his books.

Above: a new Lee Smith, some old Madeleine L’Engles ,Spontaneous Combustion (a sequel to Eighty-Sixed), and two excellent feminist books. I never read a bad book by Scott Spencer. Among the Thugs was about soccer hooligans in the UK.  I read two books about Sid and Nancy, one being a memoir by Nancy Spungeon’s mother. George Schenk’s Gardening With Friends is a memoir that I strongly recommend.

Above: a new book Margaret Drabble, The Gates of Ivory.  She is one of my top favourites.  People of the Lie is by the author of The Road Less Traveled and is about why people do evil.

Sandra Scoppetone wrote two groundbreaking gay young adult novels that I still own.  I read Everything You have Is Mine, one of her excellent mystery series.

Out Here was a funny memoir about the Pacific Northwest, and I still own it.

Alexandra Stoddard’s Living a Beautiful Life is the first Martha Stewarty thing I ever read. But for the next many years, we would be living in semi-squalor at the beach. In October, Robert and I went on a trip to the Long Beach Peninsula, supposedly for two weeks.  We stayed at the Sou’wester for a month and decided to move there.  You can see photos from that trip here.

Keeping Up Appearances by Rose McAuley is another book that is still on my shelves.  Any book that made the cut when I moved to the beach had to be good.

Below: I read the time travel romance, Wings of the Storm, because the author was the friend of friends.  If I were her, I’d be mad, because it sounds an awful lot like those awful Diana Gabaldon books used her same plot but with much more creepy sexual violence. (To be fair, I only read the first Gabaldon and threw it across the room in disgust at one point.)

I don’t remember Bones.  It is by an author whose book The Blue Chair is one of my all time favourites.

I read a gardening book that I still own, Color in My Garden, and closed the year with five Miss Reads.






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reading in 1991

reading and life in 1991

I started my 1991 reading with Dalva, an excellent book that had been a Christmas gift from a fellow I had been seeing at the end of 1990.

I was also hanging around a lot with Bryan, who had become single again.  Very early in 91, when he had started lifting weights with me at the gym, I asked him if perchance he wanted to get back together.  Having read way too much Georgette Heyer, he said no, that he was looking to be “madly in love”.  I felt then that I would have been happy to have a lifelong relationship with this dear friend who read a lot, but it was not to be.

In January of ’91 I spent some time with an anti-war enclave at the downtown Federal Building.  I wrote three posts about, starting here.  Not only was the issue important to me, but that is where I met Robert, who would be my life and work partner for the next 12 1/2 years.

Robert at the Federal Building, January

Pretty soon I was madly in love again.  Robert was not a reader.  However, he liked to spend hours practicing his guitar, so my reading time was not curtailed.  This was still a lower reading year for me than usual.  For some reason, in February the only book I read was Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying…I don’t think it helped.

My favourite book of the year, based on the number of stars next to it on my book list, was The Remains of the Day. I discovered Andrew Vachss.  I remember finding his books a hard slog.  I liked the scenes set in the Chinese restaurant with hot and sour soup.

I continued to read the Celia Thaxter gardening mysteries by John Sherwood.  The Art of Planting by Rosemary Verey and Designing with Perennials by Pamela Harper are inspirational gardening books that I still own.  You can see photos of my Seattle garden in 1991 here.

The screenshot are in reverse order.  You can click on them to biggify the covers.

I was still reading some young adult fiction.  A friend who I had met in 1987 gave me the two John Hassler books.  They are wonderful, and I want to read more by him.

I read Budding Prospects in memory of living with a pot farmer in the 80s.

A new Joseph Hansen, featuring his groundbreaking gay detective Dave Brandstetter, was a treat, as was a new Sue Grafton and Ann Tyler.

I remember that the fantasy novel Expecting Someone Taller (a genre I hardly ever read any more; it had been recommended by the same friend who gave me Jon Hassler’s books) was funny.

In June, Robert and I were involved in a project for the homeless.

Robert and I at the Operation Homestead site.

We took a lot of van camping trips during the year in the old VW van that we had bought: to the Olympic Peninsula coast, to the Oregon Coast, where I fell in love with the Sylvia Beach Hotel, and to the Long Beach Peninsula in summer, where I fell madly in love with a place.

In October, we returned to the Sylvia Beach Hotel and I wrote on my book list that I had read a lot of room journals.

Books: Writing Down the Bones helped me think more about writing. I tried another Edna O’ Brien and was still not thrilled.  I read The Grain of Truth, Three on the Run, and Carrie’s War, a children’s book about WWII, by Nina Bawden  and a new psychological suspense by another favourite, Ian McEwan.  I had read and loved Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Odd Girl Out in the 70s. I read her After Julius but still did not start a reading spree of all her books.

I must have been trying to self-improve by reading about the magic of believing in yourself.

We revisited the Long Beach Peninsula on the way home from the Sylvia Beach, staying at Klipsan Beach Cottages and the Sou’wester.  I walked the beach every day and bought Beachcombing the Pacific.  

While at the beach, Robert and I made an offer on a house in Ocean Park.  It had an apartment over the garage, we thought we could rent it out and have a place to stay at the beach and we could move there full time as soon as we could find work.  The house was only $35K, which was normal back then.  The deal fell through because the seller went out on his boat, had not signed a piece of the paperwork, and had second thoughts while he was fishing.

Back in Seattle, I found out I was pregnant.  This changed the idea of moving to the beach; I wanted to bring a child up in a more diverse social environment.  Carol moved out; Wilum said he would stay and be an uncle.  We made a Thanksgiving trip to the Sou’wester.  It was poignant now that we knew we could not move.

I needed some light reading so indulged in a Phyllis A Whitney spree. I read and liked the famous romance novel, Forever Amber, and one of P.G. Wodehouse’s humorous mysteries and a couple of good young adult novels.  A new Dick Francis and a new Robert Campbell and a new John Bellairs made me happy. As usual, I have nothing to add about books I have completely forgotten.


I thought at the time that the novel In Shelly’s Leg would be about the gay bar in Seattle by that name, famously opened with the insurance settlement money when Shelly lost her leg.  It was about a bar, but not that one.  Weetzie Bat is adorable.

I finished the year with some mysteries and some books about having babies.  I had never had a strong maternal urge and yet I had talked to both Bryan and Chris about having a baby.  Bryan did not want to; he said he must not add to population growth.  Chris was so adamant about it that he said he would file for divorce if I got pregnant and decided to have the child.  (!!!)  Let me just add that when we were all around fifty (each of them were two years older than I), both of those guys became parents and both had the nerve to tell me that having a baby was the best thing that ever happened to them.  In both cases, that statement ended our friendships (which at the time was still close with Bryan and distant with Chris).  Someone (not me) should write a book about that.  If you know of one, let me know.

Robert and I had talked about it, too, and he was fine with the idea but we had hoped to wait just a little longer.  On the other hand, I was 36 so ….

I re-read some of my favourite children’s books that had belonged to my mother: The Meriweather Girls series and one of the Campfire Girls series and imagined sharing them with a third generation.

My last book of 1990 was Civil Wars, to which I gave a star, and which I learned today is about a Civil Rights couple raising the children of segregationists.  That sounds worth re-reading.



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reading in 1990

Reading in 1990

I started the year with a Miss Read and with a new Armistead Maupin. My reading radically decreased this year, and I don’t remember why. In June and September, I only read one book.  How could that be? What was I doing?

I gave such a high number of stars to Moving House that I am going to re-read it.  Lois Duncan is a favourite writer of young adult suspense novels.  I enjoyed the novelization of my favourite show of the time, Beauty and the Beast.

I discovered Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax mystery series.  I read many of them this year.  In later years, I began to find them tedious, and they are one of the author collections that I did not keep.  However, I loved her memoir that I read years later.

In February, I went to my first big Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  I think I had attended a Seattle garden show in an earlier year, when it was much smaller.  I was still feeling great exhilaration at being single, even when taking the bus to work.  But on the day that I took the bus to the garden show, the bus was late because of snow.  I got to the show’s seminar room just as the doors were closing for a lecture by famed English gardener Rosemary Verey.  I begged and implored and was even misty eyed, and the door guard let me go in and stand in the back.  Seeing Verey speak was transformative, as were all the other wonderful speakers that the garden show used to bring.

I hope that next winter’s staycation project will be to write up all the notes I have taken at gardening lectures over the years.

My friend Hilary made a brief visit to the show to walk around the display gardens with me.  I had met her at my gym the previous year and we were close friends.  She had been friends with Chris, as well, and had encouraged me mightily to become single again.


I still have the poster.

She and I went out to delicious restaurant meals and went dancing maybe once a week.  I just don’t think that is the explanation for my lack of reading.

Hilary, a fashion icon, kept trying to make me over. She was so funny that I let her get away with it.

In the early spring, Allan visited me with his daughter.

Pearl, with Valene.

Heartbreaker P had taken on a bar near downtown Seattle.  (He would become famous in some circles, which is why I don’t put his name.) He gave me the mirrors that had been behind the bar, and Bryan helped me affix them to the inside of my fence.  When I walked onto my back porch the next morning, I thought the fence had fallen down.

Sparks mirrors and roses


My housemate, Wilum, and Hilary. We were about to go out dancing at P’s new bar.

In June, the only book I read was not-Mrs-Pollifax The Tightrope Walker by Dorothy Gilman.  What was I doing with my time?  I suspect that because I was now obsessed with gardening I gardened till dark after cleaning jobs and the gym.

(The books in the screen shot are in reverse order.  Before Dorothy Gilman, I had a new Kinsey Milhone and  Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell’s nom de plume for her darker stories) and some more Miss Read.

I read my first Laurie Colwin, Happy all the Time.  That did not start the Colwin reading spree that would come later in life.

I re-read It Ends with Revelations by Dodie Smith.  I love her for I Capture the Castle; her biggest fame is from writing The 101 Dalmations.

In the summer, Barbara came to visit me.  I love this photo.  We both agreed that it would have been better if she were reading something with a milder title than A Taste for Death.

Barbara’s photo of me

My garden was becoming amazing.


In the summer, Carol moved in with me and Wilum and we enjoyed a happy and peaceful household.  I’d think that maybe pleasant socializing kept me from reading more, but I recall that Carol, an avid reader, read for hours in the living room.

Carrie Fisher’s Surrender the Pink was good, and I went on with Georgette Heyer mysteries, a new Tony Hillerman, a new Ruth Rendell, and other random mysteries.  I liked Freaks Amour; when I read the description on Goodreads, it sounds awfully grim.  Three gardening books, In Search of Lost Roses and The Perennial Gardener, and American Cottage Gardens made an impact.  I started collecting old roses.

In September, I only read one book, A Blunt Instrument, a quick and easy mystery by Georgette Heyer.

Karen came all the way from Ithaca to visit me.  We had been a happy couple for a brief while in 1980.  When Mount Saint Helens blew, she was so afraid that the west coast would fall into the sea that she moved back to Ithaca.  1990 was the last year I saw her. We still write to each other at Christmas.


At the end of the year, my reading picked up again although to nothing as many as previous years.  I discovered Angela Thirkell.  I liked her books but not enough to pursue many more of them. December featured gardening books.  I am sure that I read The Year in Bloom by Ann Lovejoy in 1988 and forgot to write it down.  Now I had the sequel, The Border in Bloom.  I discovered Allen Lacy with The Garden in Autumn, a book that has continued to inspire me over the years. I have all those books along with The Little Bulbs on the shelf in front of me.

me, autumn 1990, in a garden mirror

The last book of the year was a thriller called The Beast Must Die, by Nicholas Blake.  I rated in highly.  I’d like to re-read it.  So many of the books I read over 20 years ago are not in our library system, and they will only accept so many interlibrary loans at a time.

In December, Seattle had an unusally big snow storm.  The memory I wrote about it has a denouement that still amuses me:

A massive snow storm resulted in me walking home all the way from a Capitol Hill housecleaning job with snow over my shoes. My client, Beth Loftus, came home early from work with her car stuck a mile from her house; she advised me to head home immediately. I had an appointment at Country Doctor for a fever and ear infection and had to beg them to see me as they were closing early. They did, and advised “Don’t get your ear cold!” Off I went, and the wind blew icy snow into my face, and the articulated buses were sprawled helplessly all over the roads. I stopped in the U. District and rang the bell at the apartment building of Bryan’s old friend Megan, but she was still at work. So I trudged on through Wallingford to Aurora and on home. By the time I got to the door, my hands were so cold I could not hold my key, and loud music kept Carol and Wilum from hearing my knock. Finally I managed to open the door, feeling like I had barely survived a huge adventure. The next morning, Carol and I walked up to Mae’s Cafe (me with my cold ear!) and the wind chill was, she said, like the Montana of her childhood. I had never felt such cold. My feeling of survival was somewhat deflated when I spoke to my seventy year old friend, Pat, retired teacher and basket-maker who lived nearby, and she told me matter-of-factly that she too had walked home from Northwest Harvest on Capitol Hill during the same storm.
I have a post right here of all my garden photos from 1990.

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