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Here are some takeaways from just some of the books I read in December.

Smoky was my familiar!

Language Arts

I do wish the library would be more careful with their stickers.  The author wrote one of my favourite novels ever, Broken For You.  I liked seeing the memoirist, Doris Grumbach, mentioned in the acknowledgments.  I would like to reread Doris’s memoirs.

The first couple of chapters inspired me to give the book a high rating. It is grim, so you might want to skip on to the next book.

…..

Oh dear.  (I do wonder what enlightened parents and grandparents of the newest generation think about the future.)  The author proposes no solutions.

…an utterly fascinating history book by one of my favourites.  (I adore her memoir, Waiting for My Cats to Die.)  In a telly show I recently was struck by the cheerful looking red aerial tramway in New York—turns out it comes from the former “Damnation Island”.

I am one of the lucky ones who can “do what I love” for work, partly from a willingness to be what most of the people I know would consider poor.

……

On the generational economic impact of racism:

 

(This is covered in depth in the book Waking Up White.)

……….more…..:

Makes me even more determined to represent real working class life.

still more serious reading

I also burned through a most exciting mysteries, the Maeve Kerrigan series by Jane Casey and all of Belinda Bauer’s mysteries.  Both had been recommended to me as worthy successors of Ruth Rendell.  Bauer is the most like Rendell, and one of hers was the best psychological suspense that I had read since Ruth died.

I read Ketzel Levine’s Plant This—actually a reread because I had read them all when they were columns in the Oregonian.

I realized that the reason I have so many of the plants she writes about it because, through those Oregonian columns, she inspired me to buy them.

Sometime before the end of January, I hope to do the overview of the complete year of reading.

Skooter helped with this post.


After tomorrow morning’s post, I’ll be returning to reading, garden puttering and Gardeners’ World for another two or three weeks.   I also must visit an ear specialist over an hour and a half away—a road trip being just about the last thing I want to do on staycation. I have accomplished nothing of my winter house projects nor have I acquired and spread yards of mulch in the garden. (Weather and the potting project have gotten in the way.)  I still hope to do some of that in the last three weeks of staycation…even though it is seeming more and more unlikely.

 

 

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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

With some colder weather in store, Allan had tried adding some plastic to the sides of the greenhouse lean to:

Allan’s photo

We found out this morning that it was so flappy and noisy in the wind that I worried it would keep our neighbours to the east awake.  Adding weights to the bottom did not help, so down it came.  The lean-to is useful enough without doors as it should keep frost off of tender plants.  Allan may add something stronger, but removable, for the coldest nights, once it gets figured out…

I began a project of cutting back honeysuckle and hops, all tangled with a lot of dead in it, on the arbors to the east of the compost bins.

before

I was quite enjoying the task when I happened to look at my pineapple sage and realized that the cold had surely damaged plants in the less sheltered Long Beach gardens.

pineapple sage

and Nicotiana ‘Fragrant Cloud’

So halfway into the afternoon, we had to switch gears and go to work.

We pulled the last of the Ilwaco cosmos…

….at the boatyard garden…

….and the Ilwaco pavilion garden.

We checked on the window boxes and barrels at the Depot Restaurant in Seaview and found that the annuals were still not ready to pull, even though I wish they were.

Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’ still has some yellow daisies….

and the window boxes still have some flowers.

In Long Beach, we cut down chrysanthemums and Salvia leucantha in several planters.  The city crew has had to dig in one of them, probably for electrical Christmas lights reasons.

Oh, dear.

I visited NIVA green for a bit of Christmas shopping.

beautiful new velvet bags, too soft for my lifestyle

There is one photo I cannot show because a Christmas present is front and center.

I was able to tell Heather in person that I was going to remove myself as co-administrator of the NIVA green Facebook page, because her assistant, Wes, is now doing such a great job with it.  It is much better for someone who is on the spot to do it, and my grandmother told me many times that too many cooks spoil the broth.  I have another place to share my photos: the “favourite shops” album on my own Our Long Beach Peninsula page.  For all its flaws, Facebook is a strong connector in our beach communities.

We finished Long Beach by clipping back some frost-limp perennials in Fifth Street Park, where the very last cosmos got pulled.  Allan had covered the gunnera with leaves during an errand run the day before.

Our last work stop was brief.  I finally cut the Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen that was STILL blooming in front of the Shelburne.  I no longer wanted to wonder every day if it looked good or was frost blackened.

This one lonely stem had emerged unplanned.

the fig tree

pineapple sage looking better than mine

We rewarded ourselves for our staycation work day with dinner at the pub.

Our drinks:

I had never heard of a Salty Dog drink.  Delicious because I love salt and I love grapefruit juice.  Amazingly, Allan had never before had a hot buttered rum.

view from our favourite table

chopped salad with chicken and a pub burger

and our favourite desserts

My BOOK had arrived at the post office today, per an email notice, but it was closed so I would have to wait till tomorrow.  I read a short book instead, which turned out to be a moderately well written and quite interesting experience of the Hillary Clinton campaign, 2016.

As with Hillary’s memoir, What Happened, I felt by the end that Hillary would be a good and kind person to know (and a much finer president than what we have now).

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

My breakfast audience:

Acanthus ‘Hollard’s Gold’ has emerged again.

Allan has finished the roof of the greenhouse lean to.

Skooter’s day included a trip to the roof…

….and a sojourn in the sink.

He was a perfect round ball till he heard the camera.

Allan ran errands and covered the gunnera in Long Beach with leaves from our gunnera.

before

after

I spent the afternoon weeding.  Because of the rain forecast, I have this week to prepare to get mulch for the garden and then will have to wait for another five day dry spell to be predicted, and hope that mulch (and good health) is available during that time.

I then read an excellent memoir.  I wish I could remember if someone recommended it to me.  If so, thank you.

I adore Vivian Gornick’s honesty and now, of course, I intend to read all her books (through interlibrary loan).

Here are some of my favourite bits.

Regarding her and her closest friend, Leonard:

……

…..

……………….

…..

……

…………………

………………..

in which the title is explained:

I hope her next books do not take long to arrive.

Skooter being a neck cat instead of a lap cat.

 

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It is December 11th.  I had no intention of blogging, until suddenly needing to boot up my computer to add the new manager of Klipsan Beach Cottages to the KBC Facebook page….and de administrate myself. It felt odd and poignant to let go of a page I created and have administered and for which I have done all the photos since…2009.  I gardened there for over 20 years.  Soon we will be visiting former managers Mary and Denny in their new home.

Since I booted up, I might as write and schedule a few blog posts before I retreat back into my blogging break.  We began December with a streak of almost summer-like weather.

December 2nd is an already forgotten day…weeding? reading? weather? I have no idea…with no photos other than this one of Skooter in the very late morning:

Monday, 3 December 2018

We had had some rain.  Perhaps this photo tells us that Sunday was a reading day. My Sony camera sometimes does not open all the way, annoying if I don’t see that I need to push it open manually.  (The Lumix thoroughly plotzed with a “system error zoom”, after less than a year, as usual.)

yellow rain gauge, halfway full

The water boxes are full again.

summer-planted extra sweet pea seeds, grew into lots of foliage and an occasional soggy flower.

Helichrysum and bacopa still lush and happy

I spent most of the afternoon digging Ficaria verna (Ranunculus ficaria) from the east fire circle bed.  It runs like crazy through the garden.

Ficaria verna today

It tries to leave as many little brown root nodules behind as possible, which is why this is a battle where the human will not prevail.

At least I can slow it down.

The plain old creeping buttercup, also shown above, is much easier to remove.

In other garden news, I am working on widening the East Willow Loop path, which has become so narrow in summer that is had ceased to be part of the garden tour here.

opened up

At the end, to the left, was the encroaching ficaria patch.

center bed and Rozanne Loop path

I covered my gunnera with its own leaves to protect it from frost….

…and put a few leaves in the van to go to the gunnera in Long Beach.

Fortunately, the short daylight hours give plenty of time for reading in the late afternoon and evening.  I cannot remember who recommended that I read Radio Free Vermont.  Thank you, I loved it.

This is also how we feel on the Long Beach Peninsula:

For comparison, Ilwaco has under 1000 residents.  It might be growing, but it is growing slowly.

……..

This is so true when moving to a small town:

…..

and….

I have read of town meetings elsewhere, possibly in Maine, in the memoirs of Doris Grumbach (whose books I highly recommend).

Radio Free Vermont is not all talk; it has adventure, suspense, and a ski chase, so give it a try.

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

We had had this much rain.

A fine day meant I must continue weeding.  I am trying to prepare for getting eight yards of mulch sometime this winter. In the course of weeding, I noticed a plant from Digging Dog Nursery was finally blooming.  I forget the name of the carroty thing.  I expected someone taller.

I consigned a columnar apple tree to the wheelie bin.

before i relegated it to the wheelie bin

It seemed too diseased to put through the Pencil Sharpener shredder.

that cannot be good

and its apples had been miniscule and unripe…

I scavenged more leaves for the leaf bin.

from a maple next door

The wind had caused no serious damage.

The bogsy woods were so soggy that I did not go much farther back.

gunnera leaves down

I decided that tomorrow we must check on the big gunnera in Fifth Street Park.

In the late afternoon, rain returned and I began a mystery series by Robert Galbraith, the Cormoran Strike mystery series.  Steveston Gardener of Canada had given me the first three when she visited this summer.  In looking to see the proper reading order, I found out today that they are actually by JK Rowling.

I was immediately smitten by the book and got halfway through before sleep time.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

I had to leave my book behind and go out to a medical insurance appointment.  On the way, we pulled cosmos at the Ilwaco Fire Station in a light rain.

before

after

an annual sunflower still blooming!

The rain stopped as we pulled cosmos at the boatyard garden and trimmed wind-thrashed Stipa gigantea with The Toy.

Some of the cosmos still looked too good to pull.

I thought we might get some final clean ups done in Long Beach after our appointment, but while we were at Shelly Pollock’s office getting my health insurance for 2019 set up, rain returned in earnest.  (Thank you, President Obama, for health care that I can afford.)

In the storm, we drove by Fifth Street Park to check the gunnera.  It was already cut down!

That is the first time the city crew has cut it down without waiting for us; I usually cut it only after frost has laid it flat.  We drove to city works to look for the leaves so that I could lay one over the plant to bring it through the winter.  We were told apologetically that the leaves were gone.  We will bring one from home to lay over the plant later.

All that got done was cutting down one now silly and lonely looking Salvia leucantha in Lewis and Clark Square.

before: very wet

We had parked at Veterans Field for that tiny project.  I pondered whether or not people think the still blooming Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’ are just messy.  I like them even now.

backed with the city Christmas tree

Damp, but not so much as to be dripping miserably, we repaired to the Shelburne Pub for a late lunch.  (I was still thinking about my book as the day progressed.)

Shelburne Hotel

one Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ still blooming

looking north

looking south

chopped salad with fried chicken added

that blackberry-topped cheesecake

We checked the window boxes for moisture at the Depot on the way home.

And then …home where I sat right down and read for hours to finish The Cuckoo’s Calling.  I realized I could do nothing much but finish the three books, giving up all idea of blogging so that I could get them done before Crab Pot Tree and friends’ visits on Saturday.  Each book is long, but unlike the later books in the Potter series, they do not drag.  (And I did love the Harry Potter series.)  It has been a long time since I have been this smitten by a fictional book series.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

We had had this much rain since I had last left off weeding.

Annoyingly good weather meant that I had to weed rather than read for at least three hours.

Joseph’s Coat rose

Skooter

a sad little conifer dug out of a dark corner where it should never have been planted (too sad to rescue)

another rescue replanted, probably still in the wrong place

Once upon a time, I bought some dwarf conifers and have never found a good way to use them.

Weeding in the front garden, I trimmed suckers off of a witch hazel.

before

almost after

my helper

Another thing to watch for is green branches growing from variegated shrubs…

like this pieris

In good weather, Allan had been working on the greenhouse annex, which is more complicated and harder than I had hoped.  I am sorry I asked for it and yet it will be good in summer for a dry storage area and in the winter I can put plastic on the ends and keep some plants out of the worst weather.

Skooter avoiding the rain under a test roof panel. Allan’s photo

I found that a quite large branch had come down in the bogsy wood.

Finally dusk came and I could get to my book.

With a break for dinner and some telly with Allan, I got within fifty pages of the end by the time I could no longer stay awake.  Silkworm‘s plot was much more disturbing than the first book.  The characters and settings overcame my squeamishness.

Lately Skooter has been more of a lap cat.

Friday, 30 November 2018

We had a perfectly wonderful rainy and windy day.

I finished Silkworm and read the whole of Career of Evil, book three of Cormoran Strike (even more disturbing than book two; what other horrors lurk in JK Rowling’s mind?).  I might have liked less gory detail.  However, the protagonists and the settings had me completely mesmerized.  If I did not finish it before Crab Pot Tree Saturday, I would be frustrated to have to leave the house.  Finish it I did at 1 AM, and immediately ordered the recently released fourth one because I cannot wait for the many folks ahead of me in the hold line at the library.  Now I could join the Crab Pot Tree festivities with an undistracted mind.

Allan’s photo

Speaking of books, I was asked to show the before and after of the cover of Allan’s Southwest Washington Paddle Trips book.

Here is the first version:

Allan’s book

And the more colourful version:

He will be selling it at the Sou’wester’s Handmade Artisan Bazaar on Saturday, December 15th from 10-4, 3728 J Place in Seaview.  It is also available in Ilwaco at Time Enough Books and the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and at Adelaide’s Books in Ocean Park.

 

 

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Saturday, 24 November 2018

We had had this much rain:

With fairly low energy and the need to go card shopping hanging over my head, I managed to get a bit of the front garden tidied up.

before, with tired and floppy Sanguisorba ‘Pink Elephant’

after

before

after

Facebook sent me a memory of a photo of the front garden on November 17, 2010:

Now:

Dichroa febrifuga berries

The Toy (Stihl battery trimmers) had made quick work of the smaller clipping in the front so that I had time to take the old spotty leaves off of almost all of the hellebores throughout the garden.

Skooter, who had been on the roof…

…came down and helped.

I felt I must go down to the port and support my favourite businesses on Small Business Saturday.  Allan had gone shopping overseas (across the Columbia River, that is) and so I went on my own, across the field beyond the bogsy wood, as the field was not yet too boggy to navigate.

My primary need was more holiday greeting cards, a need easily fulfilled at the Don Nisbett Art Gallery.

view from Don’s gallery

our bouquet

I visited Scout and Karla at Time Enough Books.

my good friend Scout

in Time Enough

With my card mission accomplished, I was glad to get home, draw the curtains at 4, and return to a new book by a favourite author.

The author refers to another favourite book series of mine.  The first passage about them does not reveal what they are.

Pages later, the reveal thrilled me.

Later, our protagonist rereads Queen Lucia.

As I read of him helping a high school student apply to colleges, I learned about the interesting exam questions that some colleges, in this case the University of Chicago, ask.  (I did not go to college so never went through that process.)

I googled to see if it were true that the U of C asks questions like this.  That lead to some interesting side reading.

Example:

In 2015, the city of Melbourne, Australia created a “tree-mail” service, in which all of the trees in the city received an email address so that residents could report any tree-related issues. As an unexpected result, people began to email their favorite trees sweet and occasionally humorous letters. Imagine this has been expanded to any object (tree or otherwise) in the world, and share with us the letter you’d send to your favorite.

This led to some poignant reflections on having not gone to college, due to poverty and to having parents who had no interest; at the time, it was hard to get financial aid if you were under 21 and had parents who could help but would not.  If I could go back in time, I would refuse all distractions in high school and seek the sort of help that I read about in My Ex-Life.  I made myself invisible to teachers and counselors.

I shook off those thoughts and returned to reading.

A description of a small town made me think of Ilwaco:

Why did reading Portrait of a Lady lead to an obsession with outdoor rooms?

Sunday, 25 November 2018

I had a true staycation day with no where to go and no one to see.  Dry weather made it a gardening day, with my usual helper.

He is not helping my comfy tattered old sweater.

after some weeding

before

after

Rain interrupted me and I was glad to return to reading before dark.  I would like to have been indoors all day like Frosty…

…in the same chair, but reading instead of sleeping.

Monday, 26 November 2018

A day of rain filled me with joy and made it an all reading day.

 

I finished a library book that I had begun last night.

The author had many privileges that led to her career as a “leader”, which she does admit.  Although it was interesting and politically pleasing, I have to admit I skimmed some of it.

I learned something about Nancy Pelosi (which I may have been aware of in 2002, so long ago):

Women usually aren’t in [politics] for the glory…but to get things done…..

I still had time for a book of mostly hilarious essays about old age by the author of the glorious Ethel and Ernest.

I would like to say I loved every minute of it.  I almost did, except for the disappointing chapter in which Raymond Briggs, in his 70s, along with his girlfriend of a similar age, enjoy going to town to make fun of fat people and critically watch them eat.  How depressing to read about such a good, funny writer having not learned by then not to be so damn mean.  I can guarantee the people that they thought they were secretly ridiculing were aware of it.

I gave the book five stars (top marks) on GoodReads but the next day I had to go back and drop a star because the fat-bullying chapter bothered me so much.

Other than that, it is such a wonderful book, especially for a Britophile like me, full of delicious descriptions like this one.

I do feel like Raymond does that my childhood now seems so antiquated with party telephone lines (used by more than one household; my grandma had one), black and white telly, and of course no computers.

I had time after that to read a very short book called On Wheels, British, about motor cars, and of interest because it is written by Margaret Drabble’s husband, Michael Holroyd.  (Thanks to MaryBeth, who I believe is the one who passed it on to me.)

At about 1 AM, I looked at the weather and saw that the day had brought over 3 inches of rain.

I was hoping for more of the same all week so that I could just keep reading.

 

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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

A sunny day turned reading plans into work reality.   I had rearranged today’s work in order to stay to home because we were expecting a cable telly repairperson in the afternoon to replace our suddenly plotzed DVR box.  I had briefly pondered if it were a sign to give up cable telly and just watch shows online.  I could not find the energy to figure out a new thing so had resignedly waited the two days for a repair appointment.

Ilwaco

I planted the Conca D’Or lily bulb into the fire station garden while Allan photographed a couple of Ilwaco houses that are further along with Halloween prep than we are.  (We have not begun.)

on Spruce Street

another Spruce Street house….

…wherein lives a friend sympatico with us (not shown in the window).

I wonder if she had just gotten back from a demonstration we had not heard about?

Allan helped by deadheading at the fire station.

We dug out annoying plants from two of the city planters kitty corner from the boatyard.

part of the boatyard garden

the north side of the boatyard

I once had a garden running partway along the north fence as well as the full length of the east fence.  Only the east garden remains because a pipe laying project about fifteen years ago put paid to the north garden.

A teucrium (?) of great vigor had completely filled up one of the planters, and in another, a golden oregano had repeatedly been crispy by watering days.

Allan’s photo

We had a bag of potting soil that had an unfortunate large vein of sawdust in it.

Allan’s photo

formerly swamped with golden oregano (Allan’s photo)

after (Allan’s photo)

I should have dumped the whole bag of potting soil into the wheelbarrow and mixed it up.

We took the teucrium (?) and golden oregano down to the port and planted it in curbside beds where a reasonably vigorous plant is welcome.

east end

port crew member at work tidying the bank of the marina (Allan’s photo)

Allan at work at the west end

While waiting for the cable repair, we worked across the street from our house at the J’s.

ghosts in Jay and Jodie’s tree

azalea oddly in bloom

Looking at that photo, I think that I will remove those blue fescue.  They are well past their prime.

The only irksome thing about waiting for the cable repair was the several automated phone calls from the company wanting to be assured that we had not changed our mind about the two hour window for the appointment.

The situation reminded me of how people say “First World Problems” about things like cable tv or mobile phone woes.  This excellent essay explains why the phrase is problematic—and inspired me to read the novel Open City by Teju Cole.

In case you don’t click the link, here is part of what Cole wrote about “First World Problems”: “I don’t like this expression “First World problems.” It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.”

Here is another essay on the same topic.

And The Guardian eloquently weighed in right here.

Right after another automated call let me know that the repair would take place in a half an hour, two cable guys arrive, one a trainee, both efficient and pleasant.  The new DVR box is smaller and yet also so subtly grumbly at all times that much later, while reading at midnight, I thought we had a dripping leak somewhere. It was just the disk making a faint racket, the sort of racket that most people would say only bothers me (but Googling proved it does bother other people with sensitivity to noise). Every appliance we have had to replace this year, (refrigerator, washing machine, and now the DVR) is noisier than the old one we had before.  I wish the engineers would realize that quietness is a worthy goal.

I failed, by punching the wrong menu number, to correctly take the survey in yet another phone call right after the appointment was over, so I missed my chance to give the guys a good review.

But I digress.  In one of Marion Cran’s books, she mentions being told that her books were “discursive”.  The kindest part of the definition is “rambling, digressive, meandering, wandering, maundering, diffuse.

After the repair, we had time to garden for two more hours at

The Shelburne Hotel.

I went into the north side garden by the pub windows to dig out the utterly silly echinops, AKA blue globe thistle plants there.  From the original clump I planted in the sun years ago, these had been moved all over in my ten year absence.  They won’t bloom in this deeply shady bed.

before

I like the short, narrow bladed, and very controllable round-handled shovel when I am working by the old windows.

after plant removal and then shifting of a pulmonaria and scrophularia, both with white or silver leaves.

The last of the sweet peas are still good enough to stay.

looking north

looking south

from the south end sidewalk

Meanwhile, Allan had checked the plants on the second floor decks and balconies.

dahlia on the room four deck

He then sheared down the Persicaria ‘Firetail’ that had been planted under the rhododendron at the south end of the property.

before

My former spouse and former co-gardener stopped by for a chat.

In the mail today arrived three books by Marion Cran.

Garden Talks has transcripts of her 1920s gardening radio show. She is said to be the first gardening broadcaster.  The little book is Garden Wisdom, excerpts from her various books. Gardens of Character is her second to last gardening memoir.  I set aside the final memoir, Hagar’s Garden, and sat down straightaway to read halfway through Gardens of Character (with a break for dinner and This is Us).

12:30 AM: Skooter usurps the late night reading lap space

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