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Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

Monday, 15 May 2017

I did not mind in the least that we had a cold, rainy, windy day off, because I had an excellent book to read.  Karla from Time Enough Books had lent me an advanced reading copy. I had started it recently at one chapter a day.  It was much better to be able immerse myself for a whole afternoon in the world of gardening in Japan.

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I had been immediately interested in Ms. Buck’s description of the difference between public gardening in California and Japan:

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And that was just the preface.  I am completely smitten by this book and consider it perfect in every way, as it tells a very personal story along with expert advice about pruning and about techniques to make every inch of a garden impeccably beautiful.

More, from later in the book, about the respect given to gardeners:

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Later:

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And not just designers are given respect:

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I do remember quitting a garden once when I was supposed to follow the design of a landscape designer with absolutely no personal input (or respect).  Especially when I heard that said designer was famous among jobbing gardeners for planting everything too close together.

I learned a new way to think about Japanese gardens, quite different from some of my assumptions:

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The passage below reminded me of how I have never adopted the term “master gardener” and feel uncomfortable when people call me that (even though I did once take the Master Gardener class with its 56 hours of training and volunteer time):

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The hard work impressed me, in all weather, including winter cold.  While I no longer work such long hours, and in all weather, I used to (although I never did start at dawn, making my winter hours much shorter than the ones Leslie worked at age 34 in Kyoto).

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When given the choice of taking rain days off, she was determined to work as hard as the rest of the crew.

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This is one reason why today, I felt a bit guilty in my comfy chair reading a wonderful book, knowing that our good friends Dave and Melissa (Sea Star Gardening) still work in all weather.

Throughout the book, I identified with the hard work of full time gardening.

“Nature….

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…carry thorns and sticky sap that attracts dirt and sometimes causes infection.”

Later: “We loved pruning, touching the plants directly.  We both understood the monetary and physical sacrifice of working on behalf of nature.”

When I read the following passage, I asked Allan to go across the street to the J’s and give the three small struggling hydrangeas a good dose of Dr Earth fertilizer.  (I could not leave my book, you see.)

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I learned of a new-to-me product, cuffs to wear over one’s wrists while pruning to protect from scratches.  If only I had thought of this while weeding among the rugosa roses in the beach approach garden.  This could save much pain in the future.  (I cannot weed in heavy rose gauntlets, but protective cuffs would be just the thing.)

I found some for sale in New Zealand.  I’ll keep searching for some closer to home.

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an excellent concept

I was reminded in the following passage of private clients of the past who treated us well:

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She had some especially kind clients:

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A later passage reminded me of a recurring problem in private gardening: bathroom access.  A few clients immediately would offer us use of their bathrooms.  Others would never think of it even if we were there all day.

I learned a new term, one that explained why I often teared up while reading about Leslie’s gardening experiences:

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Author Keane also said the original Japanese word for gardening includes “humans in nature as an inherent and indivisible part of it.”

I could hardly bear for the book to end.  It is rare to read the story of a hard working gardener, whether a highly skilled pruning specialist like Leslie or a maintenance gardener like many I know.  Her descriptive prose beautifully captures the gardens where she worked, and her pruning advice is invaluable and will prove to be of great use and inspiration to me.  I had to stop many times to ponder what she had written and, especially toward the end, to feel some deep emotion.  (A passage that mentioned President Obama brought actual tears.)

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It was a good day for Smokey, as well.

I think that during gardening season, it would help me to only read gardening books, for inspiration.

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Monday, 1 May 2017

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WHAAAAT?

I was taken aback by completely unexpected cold rain and 20 mph wind.  No!  What happened to our five nice weekdays? Ok, maybe the beach approach garden won’t get done before the Sunday parade.  After all, the parade takes place downtown, not the beach approach.

I decided that I would enjoy a reading day, as did Allan.  I returned to my wonderful birthday present book; Allan had discovered and acquired it for me from the UK.

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Smokey loves a reading day.

I was pleased to finish the very funny homage to Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island, in which author Ben Aitken retraces Bill’s route 20 years later.  While much of the book is humorous, I also appreciated Aitken’s occasional serious comments on class.

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An amusing passage:

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In Lincoln:

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More much appreciated (by me) musings on class:

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Later, in the north:

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I gave the book five out of five stars and I highly recommend it.  There were just a few moments when Aitken suggested Bryson did something that made me think, surely not.  When I cross referenced my copy of Notes from a Small Island, I was right, and now I intend to re-read Bryson’s book while Aitken’s is still fresh in my memory.

I still had plenty of time to read a rather short book that I had somehow missed by one of my favourite authors.

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An interesting digression that had little to do with the plot:

And after that, I had time to start (but not finish) a third book, another birthday present from Allan.

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I have some reservations about this book, particularly my thought that if you are going to travel from Lands End to John O’ Groats starting off in just your skivvies, begging along the way for clothes, bikes, food, and lodging, it will go a lot better if you are young white men.  These two chaps are the sort who insist on making it quite clear that they really don’t want to share a double bed.  And it does not seem to occur to them to examine why their journey is not especially dangerous.  My feeling when I read Dear Bill Bryson is that I’d love to be friends with the author.  These two…maybe not. However, I am very much enjoying the descriptions of England and I wouldn’t mind another rainy day to finish the book…if it were not for the fact that we are behind on work. (Edited to add…I am almost done with the Free Country book and have enjoyed the travelogue but am AWFULLY tired of being constantly reminded that the two young men are not gay.  They need to grow up!)

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

As predicted, we had a rainy and windy day.  I felt a little restless about it.  Views as I paced from window to window:

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kitchen


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north front


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north front


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east front


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Allan’s study, east


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Allan’s study, east


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Skooter does not like to go outside in the rain.


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south

I pondered how if I got my whole south window replaced, I could take photos out of the non screened side.

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This and one of the front windows is “blown”.

I find it very hard to spend money on things like this.

Just going out on the front porch to take this photo made my hands cold:

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Allan did take a few photos on his way between house and shed:

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and at the post office:

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hesperantha blooming now instead of waiting till fall


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one broken lily sprout

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Fortunately, I had a big book to read with over 300 pages to go.

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No Logo

I finished it by nine o clock, and then watched Deadliest Catch and felt wimpy for not being willing to work in the rain.

I felt blessed that we live in a relatively advertising-free environment.  Here at the “lost corner” of Washington State, we have only two chain restaurants (a rather gaudy McD’s and a low key Subway that blends in), and even though two of our three bigger grocery stores are franchises (IGA and, I think a Thriftway), they are still referred to by their old names (Sid’s and Okie’s).  While we do have billboards advertising local businesses, all but two extra large ones (between Black Lake and Seaview) are gentle on the eye compared to most billboards, and just advertise local motels and resorts.  This makes the Long Beach Peninsula a more restful place to live if, like me, you want to get away from advertising, brand names, and glitz.

Post script for those who are interested: No Logo by Naomi Klein

The book was excellent, even though somewhat outdated (published in 2000).

Some particularly interesting points:

How a certain McD restaurant went after any restaurant with McD in its name:

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This reminds me of the local story of how Starbucks went after an Astoria coffee shop named SamBuck’s.  The owner’s name was Samantha Bucks!  (She had done a logo that was sort of a take off on the SB logo.)  Read more about that case here.

A mention of community gardening:

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A whole chapter about the Reclaim the Streets movement had this interesting story.

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Of course, they lost…

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Re child labor, the National Labor Committee, and director Charles Kernaghan:

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About how sweatshops and child labor get so much more attention when attached to a brand name (Nike, for example):

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More about the Zapatistas (Klein also wrote about them in The Shock Doctrine).  I just very much like what Marcos had to say:

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Note to those who care: From what I had read recently, some of the Romany people consider “the g-word” to be a racial slur and would prefer that we use the word Romany.  If you care about that sort of thing, as I do, here is some beginning reading about it.  Google will give you much more.  I’d rather err on the side of politeness so have given up “the g word”. 

Tomorrow more rain is predicted, and I have a book of light reading lined up for a change.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A storm was due, with two gale flags flying at the port.  After breakfast, I thought I just might have time to turn a compost bin.

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I got this far before the rain came in earnest.


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We’d had this much rain overnight.


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a wistful look in the west gate before giving up


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No one had gone outside with me.

I did not much mind staying in because I could get back to an excellent book, one I had set aside in order to read two interlibrary loans.  I was very much taken by today’s book and intend to read more by this author.

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The premise of Solnit’s book is that most humans behave well and for the collective good after disasters, rather than descending into violence and greed.

I adored the story of the kitchens and camps set up after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

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Solnit said it is “elite panic” that causes death after disasters, like the martial law that was declared after the 1906 earthquake and that resulted in a shocking number of deaths of citizens who were shot while trying to rescue others.  The same sort of horrific law and order and elite property protection violence happened in New Orleans after Katrina.  The powers that be seem to fear the way that the citizens gathered to make soup kitchens and shelters and to care for themselves.  Heaven forfend that anarchy might ensue.

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More about elite panic:

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There is also a lack of faith that the citizens will resist panic.  In fact, Solnitz presents evidence that in an emergency, people do not generally panic.  The British proved that to be true during the Blitz even though, beforehand, the government had little faith in them:

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Charles Fritz wrote this after visiting Britain during WWII:

IMG_1529.JPGWhile Solnit writes about several different international disasters, she focuses most in depth on the ones she could get the most information about: California earthquakes, the Halifax explosion of 1917 (which I had never heard of!), 9-11, and Katrina.  The way people took care of each other and found community makes me less afraid of the always dreaded tsunami (of which we might be survivors, since we live close to a big hill).

You probably know that I have an emotional response to the story of the little ships of Dunkirk, so this 9-11 story had enough tears falling that I had to move the book out of the way.

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In another disaster story, I learned about a real life superhero, Super Barrio, who emerged after the Mexico City earthquake.

And about the Musician’s Village, a post Katrina housing project that reminds me of the Rural Studio.

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so beautiful, makes me weepy

And finally, a political concept that deeply spoke to me.

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If you like to read non-escapist literature, a day spent with A Paradise Built in Hell will give you a renewed faith in the power and good nature of the most ordinary of citizens.  It was just exactly what I needed to hear.

I finished the book just in time to go to a Salty Talk at Salt Pub…but not in time to get there early enough to get a seat. 

 I had intended to pick some flowers.  Instead, I only had time to look at the garden briefly before leaving.

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I’m not selfless enough to pick tulips out of my boat…


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or in the center bed…

I have some hidden tulips I’d have shared with Salt if I’d left enough time.

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“Ever wonder how fast crabs move? Or how fast your crab pot can fill up? Join Curtis Roegner, a NOAA Research Fishery Biologist, as he discusses his group’s work with acoustic telemetry and benthic video to track Dungeness crab migrations and movements in the Columbia River estuary.”

As it was, we could not get a table with Dave and Melissa, who had arrived just before us to find seating only at the bar. Kind owner Julez found me and Allan a little table in the back corner.

Tasty Mac and Cheese


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a full house (Allan’s photo)


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view from our table (Allan’s photo)


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Allan’s photo


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Allan’s photo


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park rangers listening to the talk


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crabby slide reflection


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swooping down on a deadhead on our way home


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tulips in the garden boat at Time Enough Books


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in the curbside garden (Allan’s photo)

We must try to get back to weeding the beach approach tomorrow.  I am inspired to brave the weather because the new season of Deadliest Catch has begun.  It helps me to work harder.

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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Skooter is on day 9 of 10 inside and has to spend part of every day in the bathroom so that the other cats can go out for awhile.

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Allan’s photo

I noticed to my delight that Allan had bought us a new box of Builders Tea.

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When I commented on this, he said that enough work had to be done to deserve it.

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Smokey outdoors

I embarked upon more front garden weeding to earn some Builders Tea and another reward that I promised myself: When I get the front garden done, I can turn the compost bins before weeding the back garden.

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The jar is for collecting snails.

Allan took it upon himself to weed a difficult corner by the back patio.

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before


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hard to access

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after


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after

I am impressed.  This area requires crawling underneath a thorny rose.  (The big trunk is the blue potato vine, Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’.)

My accomplishments:

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east front garden, before


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after


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middle front garden, before


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after


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before


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after


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north east front corner, before…


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and when I quit because of rain.

Oh well!  You can see I did not get to erase “front garden” from the work list.

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The garden was scented with the tiny flowers of Azara microphylla ‘Variegata’.


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grape hyancinth with a top knot


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Builders Tea has been earned.  (Allan’s photo)

I was tired and sore and pleased to be indoors with time to read an entire book (one with lots of photos) about The Rural Studio.

How very cosmic is was that I discovered the fascinating topic of Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio.

First, Our Kathleen sent me a link to a fascinating piece of real estate.

The listing mentioned Mockbee and the Rural Studio: “Enter the gates and you enter a private garden like no other. 100s of plants in containers, a grove of bamboo, mature trees and beautiful one-off gazebos and garden features. All of this is anchored by a grand pavilion made from steel and found materials in the grand style of The Rural Studio and Samuel Mockbee.”  

We went to see it and were thrilled with the use of recycled materials to make structures and garden art.

At about the same time, at Kathleen’s recommendation, I had read the book Deep South by Paul Theroux.  It had mentioned the Rural Studio in a way that piqued my interest.

I read online about Samuel Mockbee and then watched a video about his work.

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Now, through interlibrary loan, I had the book to read.

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Just look:

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I love him, and it breaks my heart that he died of leukemia at age 57.

Fill your eyes with these homes, and get the book to see much more.

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The three little popouts are for three grandchildren.  Brilliant!

Living “pods” under a big roof.


A wall of light made of old car windshields….

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…reminded me of the gazebo at the place for sale here on the peninsula that had one end made of clear floor mats from cars!

At the artist’s retreat for sale north of Ocean Park:

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wall of light made from car floor mats

I have ordered one more book to read on the subject.

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I wish that in an alternate timeline, I could have been a student there during the Mockbee years.  They have a Rural Studio blog, which I will try to find time to follow.

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

J’s garden

We managed to start our finishing-up project of weeding at J’s just before the rain came.  We completed the tasks in the rain.

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I am concerned about the three small hydrangeas in the front garden.  They had been planted so mounded up that their roots were exposedand they had been tipped over for years.  I mulched around them earlier this spring.  It is possible that they need replacing.  I forgot to do a scratch test for green under the bark.

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Survival is questionable; all the other hydrangeas I know are leafed out by now.

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weeding project in the back (Allan)

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flowering quince

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lawn ranunculus (Allan’s photo)

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Ranunculus removal accomplished.

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increasing rain and wind when we were done with J’s

On an errand, we saw that Black Lake is full to the brim.

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Black Lake, Ilwaco

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hopes for spring in the Ilwaco Timberland Library (Allan’s photo)

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deadheading a few Ilwaco planters in the rain

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final tax appointment at our accountant’s office

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official greeter

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Allan’s photo

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Jennifer’s lilies

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Our good friend Helen

We were so sad to learn that Helen, age 10, has cancer.  She is on chemo, doing well, and we are hoping for the best.

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I read two books for remainder of the day, while Allan (who likes to shop) made an excursion across the river for a big grocery shopping.

I kept all the cats indoors for awhile to keep Skooter company.

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yearning

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Skooter amusing himself with the bag from a belated birthday present from KBC

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I finished this book

Negin (pronounced Neh-geen) goes to a wedding in Iran.

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After finishing Ms. Farsad’s enjoyable, breezy yet sometimes serious and enlightening book, I indulged in a quick read about home decor.

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A photo reminded my of my friend Montana Mary and how when we were in high school, we dreamed of getting a place together right after graduation.  My vision was brick floors (with bricks brought in and just laid on top of whatever floor) and burlap curtains. I had not remembered that for years.  Now, practically, I’d find it hard to walk on and hard to clean.

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(Our dream never happened.  Mary went to college in Jerusalem and I stayed in Seattle.  We met up again in London in 1975.  Winter project 2017: To write up that whole tour of the UK.

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me and Mary 1973, right after high school

I also liked this idea for large bunkbeds:

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Even though we did not finish the check up list yet, I am starting to think ahead about the thirteen sections of the beach approach garden, and more.

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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.

BECLOO

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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