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Archive for the ‘our garden’ Category

Sunday, 26 March 2017

More exceptionally wet weather kept me indoors.  Even though I’ve heard of our region being described as the Pacific NorthWET, I feel (without checking statistics) that February and March have been exceptionally rainy.

I took the briefest of walks out into the front garden.

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Pieris and flowering plum


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pieris


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needs detailed weeding!


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one showy tulip


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pleased that my rosa pteracantha has leafed out; I had been worried about it.


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narcissi


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Japanese maple


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also relieved to see Tetranpanax leafing out after a cold winter


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No feline had come outdoors with me.


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Skooter


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Smokey

I applied myself to finishing Thank You for Being Late…

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Parts of it were good…

…and then turned to a much shorter book that I’d been looking forward to and that was soon due at the library.

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I had read all of Betty’s books, enjoying both her acerbic wit and the Seattle and Vashon Island settings.  (Warning: The Egg and I, her most famous book, published in 1945, has some passages of racism toward the local native tribe that bothered me very much when I read it.  This is addressed in just one page of the biography.)

As I had always suspected, there was a more harrowing truth to the egg farm story than was revealed in Betty’s fictionalized autobiography.

I had started young on Betty’s books, with Mrs. Piggle Wiggle being a favourite of mine in grade school.

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I was astonished to read that in the 1930s, Betty lived just three blocks east of where I grew up (6317 15th; I lived at 6309 12th).  I must have walked by the house many times.

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Betty’s home, as it was

I was even more astonished to read that the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books might have been an influence on the name I chose in 1994 for my gardening business.

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In spring of 1994, I somehow ran across (before I had internet!) a mention of a place in England called “Tangley Cottage”.  I wonder if my memories of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s “tangly garden” is why the name appealed to me so much.

Paula Becker felt compelled to find Betty’s story.  That is just how I felt about Mass Observation diarist Nella Last, and about Gladys Taber’s memoirs.

“Why do some moments in history, some people’s stories, resonate for us more than others?  Perhaps because on some level, our own histories are deeply listening for them.  Listening to the quiet voice saying, Find me.”  —Paula Becker, Looking for Betty McDonald

Someone else that I found more about this week was Samuel Mockbee.  First, he was mentioned in the real estate listing of a hidden garden paradise we recently toured, and then his Rural Studio was mentioned in the great book, Deep South, by Paul Theroux.  Last night, we watched Citizen Architect,  a video about him.  It made me want to be young and a student at the Rural Studio.

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As you can see, rainy days are in many ways quite perfect.

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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Much as I longed to go the weekly political postcard party, I did not want any of our friends to get our colds.  By now, Allan’s was worse than mine as it got passed down the chain.

With the first really nice day all week, I decided to explore the potential compost bin area by our greenhouse.

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yesterday

It used to be a raspberry patch that had not done at all well.  Last year, it became an axiliary frog home with a free pond (the sort meant to be dug into the ground) that we had gotten from a friend.

I had started poking at the weeds when Allan emerged and asked if I wanted the pond emptied out.  Why…yes!  (I had carefully checked for frog spawn and found none.)

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We set the waterlogged pots of water loving plants to one side to drain out; they are too heavy to lift into the water boxes right now.

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waiting

One of the water boxes has a leak toward the top.  Having the big pot of water hyacinth in there will hide that problem.

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sadly one inch low water box

Many snails had found a home on the bottom of the plastic pond form.

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Allan’s photo

Not long after they were deposited into a bucket, the snails embarked upon a daring escape.

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Allan took them to the big field out back.

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on the way, standing water in the swale (Allan’s photo)

Devery popped over from next door, and when I mentioned that I was going to give away the preform pond, she happily took it to make a planter.  From looking through my grandmother’s old scrap books, I have realized that if I do have a pond sunk into the ground, I would like it to be a simple shape, like these photos that she had cut out from magazines long ago.

Back to the preparation for the compost bins: I was cursing the thick, ropy, hard-to-cut hops roots that coursed throughout the old raspberry patch from the hops and honeysuckle poles at each end.  It was not an easy weeding job.  Allan helped by hacking clumps with the big pick.

Every time I have assembled pallet compost bins before, I’ve tied them together with rope and let them sit there all wonky.  Allan had a different idea.

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his tools (and the pick handle)

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a trench dug to make the pallets level

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proper assembly

With the first bin done, I began to fill it up…an exciting prospect.

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newspaper base will help keep roots from coming up

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The new bin inspired some clipping

I was startled to learn that we only had four pallets, not the five needed to make two bins.  Allan had dismantled the fifth one to repair the other four’s missing slats.

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The project at a momentary standstill

On his errand to pick up the mail, Allan decided to quest for three more pallets.

He saw this down at the Port:

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Soon, Allan triumphantly returned to the garden, carrying a pallet, and began to finish the second bin.

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In order to continue to use one of the clotheslines for blanket drying, we had to place the bins so that there is only a narrow space between the back and the greenhouse.  I am hoping to reach in with a hoe from each end to get weeds and am aware that it might be a future problem.

The second clothesline will now only work for smalls.

Skooter had emerged to inspect the project and to monitor the frogs in the water boxes.

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I had clipped more plant matter in the greenhouse and on the patio to add to my first bin when me legs suddenly seized up, and I had to hobble into the house and have a sit down.  Little did I know that Allan had actually acquired three pallets.  As he stayed out to finish the project, I felt guilty but incapable.  I did not realize he was able to complete the third bin till he showed me the photos.

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done 

Eventually, there will be big horizontal boards that slip in along the front to hold the debris in place.

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I was well chuffed to have three compost bins, like Mr Tootlepedal.  Later in the evening, I caught up reading the last week of the Tootlepedal blog and was reminded that he has four bins: A, B, C, D.  It has been his compost turning and sifting exploits over the last few years that reminded me how much I do like having proper compost bins.  It’s so satisfying and makes faster compost, something that will be beneficial as we work less and can afford to buy less readymade mulch.

I will be shifting the debris pile from next to Devery’s driveway into the new bins.

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the old debris pile, soon to be some sort of garden

It would be fun to have a shared kitchen garden there, but it is outside the deer fence.  Perhaps herbs and flowers.

I look forward to the future filling of the bins and shifting piles from one to the other and then the sifting of the finished product through a screen placed over a wheelbarrow.

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My mother sifting compost in 2008, age 83

At my house in Seattle, which was once my grandma’s house, I had two compost areas separated by a narrow concrete path, and  I still remember the pleasure of tossing the partially decomposed clippings from one pile to the other and then sifting finished compost.  As a small child, I dreamt one night that I was one of the wriggling red worms in Gram’s compost pile.  That sounds like a nightmare.  It was not.

At 3 AM, I could not fall asleep because my mind was so busy imagining the collecting and layering of compostable material into my new compost bins.

 

 

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Monday, 13 March 2017

As I write the first part of this in the mid afternoon, the rain is not as fierce as it was this morning.  In my youth…maybe five years ago…I would have leapt out to do some work.  Now, I feel less like working in the drizzle.  I added last week’s one day of work to the time sheet and was shocked to see we’ve eight rain and windy bitter cold and even snow days off.  Meanwhile, I’m embarrassed to report that Dave and Melissa bundled up in rain gear and worked through almost ALL the weather.

My excuse today: The soil is boggy and the plants are all drenched.  What a wimp!

I did take a walk in the soft rain throughout the garden.

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Skooter looked startled that I opened the front door.


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hyacinth basket


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looking south


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soggy footing


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lots of crocuses


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Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (contorted filbert)


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way too much fried egg plant reseeded in the bogsy wood


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narcissi, and monster shotweed


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Slippery ground prevented the shotweed pulling and fern clipping from starting up.

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pulmonaria (spotted dog)


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hard to even imagine when we’ll be able to have a campfire


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The swale path is a pond.


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Looking north.  Water on the center path is over the top of my boots.


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south gate

The top of the south gate represents a Chinook tribal canoe, the sort that used to ply the river when this very spot was river front, before the port parking lots and building sites were built on fill, in the early 1950s.

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I do wish this water stood all year long.

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coming round the west side


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more pulmonaria


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corydalis foliage


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crocuses

As you can see, the chop and drop method looks pretty messy.  I look forward to the future three compost bins which will be made as soon as we get six more free pallets…from somewhere.  I have decided the bins will tuck in nicely next to the greenhouse.

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They will replace the wonky tadpole pond set up…


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I love my new stop the eye fence.


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Euonymus ‘Wolong Ghost’ is seriously climbing the front of the house, which is vinyl clad.

As I had walked all around the garden, I had collected one flower from every hellebore.  I’m sorry to report that many had minuscule snails hiding inside, putting paid to the idea that a cold winter would mean fewer snails.

Here is the full collection of hellebore blossoms.

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Skooter appeared.

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The center one is last year’s birthday present from Our Kathleen.

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Because my camera has been finding it hard to capture the glory of the corylopsis in bloom, I asked Allan to photograph it.

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Corylopsis and crocus, my photo

He returned with these:

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Corylopsis pauciflora

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with some fill in flash

Smokey snoozed through all of it.

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I’d like to read for the rest of the day in this most wonderful book:

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I can already tell you I am going to be rating this book at 20 stars.  As a former housecleaner for 18 years, I find deep familiarity in the stories of doing housework for richer folk.  And as the protagonist, Mildred, talks with her best friend about race, I keep marveling in a furious way that 70 years after it was written, how very much about racism is still the same.  Read it; it is wonderful and it’s funny despite its serious topics.  Read about it here.

My reading hours are curtailed because tonight is the local Democrats meeting.  I know Mildred would want me to go.  Here are her thoughts on a meeting:

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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Because we had a political meeting in Naselle this afternoon, we had decided to leave home in time to drive half an hour further and visit a museum in Skamokawa.

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driving along the Columbia River

I was not best pleased that it was a beautiful day and would have been excellent for weeding the boatyard garden.

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two wrecks?

Here is what the white remnant of a boat looked like in 1995, in the same little bay:

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For some reason, it had been deemed unsalvageable.

As we drove along, I pondered the fact that the many conifers along our roads are why our landscapes look more somber than the airier ones that Mr Tootlepedal photographs in Scotland.

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scenery heavy with evergreens

We arrived at our destination in Skamokawa: Redmen Hall, which I had read was hosting an exhibit about tugboats and steamers on the Columbia.

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The view from the parking lot

A back door offered easy access without all those stairs…and a disheartening sign.

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NOOOOOOOO

Across the highway, below, is a general store and café where we have stopped before.  I thought that, because of Skamokawa being such a small town, I might luck into a museum docent there.

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looking down on the grocery store and post office

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Redmen Hall from below

In a room right on the river, behind the store, an antiques sale was on for the day.

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antiques in a light filled room

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I used to have an apple like this till my good friend Sophie (a dog) broke it…for which she was forgiven.

I found two things to buy.  One is a present so I cannot show it!

And sure enough, when I mentioned having driven from Ilwaco to find the museum was closed, I learned that one of the docents was ill, and another one offered to open it for us.

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behind the store/café

Off the deck by the store, a boater was buzzing around.  I am sure Allan wished he was out boating, too.

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Allan’s photo

We followed the docent back up to Redmen Hall.  The hall was once a school house.  Amazingly, it used be down where the highway is.  When the road was put through, the building got moved up the hill with “steam donkeys” (not really donkeys!).

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The old school house remembered.

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Allan went straight up to the bell tower. (I did not.)

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Step on a pedal to open the shutters for the view.

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The views from the bell tower.

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river town from high above (and a boat ramp)

On the second floor, well designed historical panels go all around the walls of a big open room.

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What Skamokawa means

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interpretive panels

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the kind docent who let us in.  The way the panels are put together reminds me of my grandma’s scrapbooks.

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when the road went through

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a dance where “ladies may walk on their partners feet, and no questions will be asked”.

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another strong woman

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river pictures (Allan’s photo)

A glass case held birds provided by the Audubon Society…

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an erstwhile Mr Grumpy had fine plumage.

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the view

We dropped a contribution into the money jar and also spent a pretty penny in the well -stocked gift shop, including two books (quiet, because one is a present), a documentary called Work is Our Joy (about gillnetting), and some notecards.  If we’d had time, we could have watched Work is Our Joy right in the museum.  I will enjoy it from my comfy chair at home.  I already identify with the title.

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One of three nooks of books.

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Well represented: the books of Grays River author Robert Pyle

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Musician Doug is the spouse of our friend Beth; they live nearby but we had had no time to look them up.

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river town art

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most of our purchases

The hall is open Thursdays through Sundays from noon to four.  We recommend a visit.

We had a little over half an hour to to get back to our Indivisible meeting in Naselle.  I could not resist a side trip to the historic 1905 Grays River covered bridge.

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on the way

Tying in with our visit to Redmen Hall: author Robert Michael Pyle lives in a house with a view of the covered bridge.  I thought it would be kind of nosy to add a photo of his house, so here is the bridge.

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under the bridge (Allan’s photo)

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The river running fast and high.  (Allan’s photo)

In particularly stormy times, the river has flooded the valley.

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Allan’s photo

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Allan’s photo

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Here we go.

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the other end

Before we turned around, I had to get a closer look at two trees beside  the parking area.

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going in for a closer look

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moss and licorice fern

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Allan’s photo

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Allan’s photo

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assorted critters

Ooops.  I suddenly realized time had slipped by and we would be 25 minutes late to the meeting at Hunters Inn, Naselle.  I told myself that it was ok; we have been to almost every liberal political meeting available since November so we could be late to just one.

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part of the gathering

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postcards laid out on three booths

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One member brought this.

We discussed, shared ideas, and laid some plans for future events.

On the way home, Allan and I detoured to look at a garden we had admired when attending last month’s meeting.

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The garden in question is next door to Naselle Timberland Library. (Allan’s photo)

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lots of narcissi about to bloom (Allan’s photo)

Next door: a large garden which I intend to look at every time we have a Naselle meeting.

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Allan’s photo

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Allan’s photo

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pieris and the church next door

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Right across the street sits another charming house.

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I wonder if there will be sweet peas on that fence in summer. Or that could be a dog path!

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wrap around porch

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a tree with personality

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Allan’s photo

As we got close to home, I looked at the weather forecast and must admit I did begin to fret about losing what might be the only nice gardening day this week.  Remembering that we now have light till after 7 PM (yay for daylight saving time!), I resolved to get two hours work done in my own garden.

While clipping some Joe Pye weed, I gave an experimental dig at a large fuchsia.

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one of two many fuchsia magellanica

To my surprise, it shifted, so Allan helped me pull it out.

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after…Ok, he pulled, I watched and encouraged.

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project: clean up middle bed, before…

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and after

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Woe!! One of two matched asophedels has disappeared from the right hand pot.

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I will snag this asphodel from a different pot.

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Frosty

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bogsy wood swale

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Oh for more time in the garden; so much to do.

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Skooter obsessing about the frogs.

The unfortunate forecast:

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Resolved: no more daytime meetings on nice days till we have spring clean up done!

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

We had a huge amount of rain, resulting in no gardening.  Allan took some photos in the back garden:

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path by the bogsy wood

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path to the bridge

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bogsy wood swale

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next summer’s campfire wood

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the swale bridge

After a great deal of news reading, I started a new book, recommended by Our Kathleen.

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At first, the author annoyed me.

This doesn’t sound farcical to me:

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I didn’t like this classism:

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I almost put the book aside.  Fortunately, I persevered because it got much better.

The author is seeking how poor people live:

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I wonder if this is true.

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At over 400 pages, Deep South should keep me occupied for two more excessively rainy days, which is about what is predicted.

I had wrought a miracle over the past two days, actually getting the bathroom closet completely emptied.  Today, Allan removed the door and walls, which will give us a corner to store the glass bricks for the tub project.  I expected the sounds of a sledgehammer and splintering faux wood; instead, he did it neatly with a screwdriver. Glass blocks will make the end wall when the tub (still to be acquired) is placed in the already plumbed spot; a tub used to be there till the previous owner had it removed in order to place a rolltop desk in the bathroom.  Bathroom/slash office was an unusual combination.

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This probably doesn’t seem like interesting blog fodder. However, I know of one reader who will be interested to know that the glass blocks got moved into the bathroom (but not the 95 Pound bag of mortar). 

Allan saw a good sunset while discarding old particle board shelving.

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Skooter enjoying the water boxes

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Monday, 6 March 2017

I woke to sunshine and thought we could work…until I took a look out the window.

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view out the south cat door

Never mind.

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Skooter, staying in.  (Allan’s photo)

Allan took some snowy garden photos:

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I see a black spotty hellebore leaf that should be removed.

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hypericum

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When he went to the post office and dropped off three books at the library, he took more photos of the community building garden’s crocuses.

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Meanwhile, I was reading.

IMG_0352.JPGIt was difficult to leave the book for an early evening meeting of the Living Liberally Pacific County group.  I had only heard of Swallows and Amazons in the past year and was recently reminded of it by a mention on the Tootlepedal blog. 

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At Adrift Hotel in Long Beach


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Folks barbecuing nearby in icy wind.


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determined to wrest all enjoyment from their vacation


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into the meeting room we go

After another productive political meeting, Allan and I repaired upstairs to the [pickled fish] restaurant.

I’d been wanting to try absinthe for some time, because I’m a fan of artemisias in the garden.  It is made from Artemisia absinthium, which you can read about here. [pickled fish] serves it “in the traditional way”, involved a decanter, a spigot, and the melting of a sugar cube.

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absinthe: licorice, sweet, strong


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delicious fennel sausage pizza

Upon departure, I was especially struck by the beauty of the planters in the foyer.  Perhaps the absinthe enhanced my appreciation.

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some artemisia (but not absinthium)

Swallows and Amazons

During the day and into the night I read Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.  How did I miss this 1930 classic as a child, especially since I had then sought out British children’s book authors (like Edith Nesbit and C.S. Lewis)?  As I read today, I occasionally felt verklempt about being old.

A few favourite bits from this delightful adventure of children camping on an island in the Lake District:

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…….

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……..

Oh, to have a mother as open to her children having adventures:

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…………….

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I have learned that the book is the first of a series.  I will be reading more of them.

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public service announcement

Maggie Stuckey, author of one of my favourite kitchen gardening books, The Bountiful Container, is going to be speaking at all four Timberland libraries on the subject of vegetable gardening in containers.  While I would most like to attend the talk at our local Ilwaco branch, it conflicts with an ACLU training session, so we will go to the Ocean Park one.  Allan took this photo at the library today.

 

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Thursday at Ocean Park, Saturday at Ilwaco

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Sunday, 26 February 2017

I’m not sure why I decided we could take the day off, but we did.  The weather was pleasant enough to get outside in the afternoon and work on spring clean up in my own garden, at last.  Even though I have a separate at-home work board, I decided to add my own clean up to the main board.

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Because I haven’t been out there much, I was pleased to remember that I have a new eye-stopping bit of fencing:

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free fence wood courtesy Klipsan Beach Cottages

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east bed, before

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Skooter about to leap

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This was pretty much not a weeding day, just clipping.

This year, I am determined to not add to the debris pile next to Nora’s driveway, because I don’t want new neighbour Devery to have to look at that mess.  This strengthened my resolve to follow the Ann Lovejoy and Anne Wareham methods of dropping debris right into the garden.  Lovejoy calls it Chop and Drop.  Wareham wrote in her excellent book, The Bad Tempered Gardener, that it makes no sense to haul debris out of the garden, compost it, and haul it back in.

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after

I did not do a whole lot of chopping before dropping.  Because my two biggest back garden beds are so wide, I think if I make a spine of debris down the middle, it will be hidden as the garden grows.  Eventually, this should lift up the center of the beds as much as adding mulch would.

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The crocuses are all up, so I can tell where to not make piles of debris.

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crocus among naturally fallen Miscanthus

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This debris should disappear later.  Must do more stomping.

Now the trick is to not have an attack of tidiness.  This method is not one I can use on most jobs because the clients value tidiness, especially in public gardens.  Anne writes about dropping and stomping the debris into the border.  I did walk on it to press it down.

 

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center bed, Stipa gigantea, before

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after

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west bed, before

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This made me sad. Little chamaecyparis.  Unfixable, I think.

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after the rain came, stopping my work

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center bed, before

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after, as I got rained out

Rain and small hail resulted in my not getting any bed done enough to erase it from the work board.

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west bed

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pouring rain and hail

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another area to hide debris behind tall lilies that will come up in front

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east side of the bogsy woods

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I got soaked!

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Allan picked up the couple of piles of debris that was too tough to rot down, for which I was grateful.

Allan’s photos:

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the debris pile I’m trying to not add to

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a pile to pick up (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’)

Despite the gardening session ending two hours earlier than I would have liked, I felt that I accomplished much.

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I started a new book

Monday, 27 February 2017

Allan hooked up the work trailer.  Just as we were about to depart, rain came and the temperature dropped, and we turned around and went inside.

The cats did not want to go out, either.

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Frosty

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Skooter

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Calvin

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later

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how Smokey and I spent our day

I almost finished the book…less than 100 pages to go.  It did not make for a mentally restful day.  I feel that its lessons apply strongly to what is going on politically nowadays.

Speaking of the military, we’ve been binge watching a highly satisfying science fiction series called The Last Ship.  My last social media look of the night showed me one of those silly little quizzes, something like “You’ve been kidnapped and the only ones who can save you are the cast of the last show you watched.  Will you be saved?”  The Last Ship? Hell, yeah.  While it’s kind of gung ho militaristic, I find the show entertaining and I appreciate its diverse cast (even though the ships commander is one of those square jawed guys that looks kind of like a Lego man).

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Tomorrow…back to work, I hope, although the forecast looks iffy.  I long to erase stuff from the work board.

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