Friday, 1 November 2019

I’d had a bad night’s sleep because, while removing the tawdry cobwebs along the front fence at ten o clock last night, I had managed to jab a thorn or sliver under my middle right hand fingernail.  Why would I be so foolish as to not wear gloves while gardening by streetlight? I ask you. I usually wear thin exam gloves that would not have protected me, anyway.  Even though neither Allan nor I could see any sliver, the throbbing kept me awake till I finally wrapped my finger in a cold washcloth.  I thought about friends who have lain awake with the bone pain of chemotherapy or the post-surgery pain of knee replacements and felt rather foolish to be so felled by pain in one finger.

Friday was the first clean up day of the driveway and the garage woodland grotto.  Allan had gone off to flog his book at a holiday bazaar.

photo by bazaar organizer Karen Brownlee

Judy and Larry again drove down from Ocean Park to help out, and again the weather was like a perfect, not too warm summer day.

Before, 11:30 AM:

Last night, we had just managed to get enough shoved into the garage to shut the door, and then I had puttered on my own for a couple of hours retrieving my scary-cover book displays and packing up the small Halloween figurines that Allan inherited from his mother.

Allan agrees with me that painting the inside of the garage door a dark colour (could be green instead of black) will help with the grotto effect for next year.

Larry removed the lower level of Halloween lights and took all my watering cans (part of the spooky plant display) to the back patio.

Larry figuring out what he can take down without a ladder

Judy raked leaves from the sides of the display and dismantled the tomato cage ghosts…

…while I hauled debris into two piles behind the garage, one for the compost bins and one for chipping.

Judy helping to sort things out

Two hours later, I had over half of the plant debris hauled and the sphagnum moss collected into a barrow to be dumped in a pile somewhere in the bogsy wood.

Judy and Larry departed.  What champion friends they were to help set up AND take down Halloween.

the garage at 2 PM

Our Kathleen stopped by to get her ticket from us for tomorrow night’s 6×6 art auction.  She kindly waited while I took apart the Halloween bouquets and put them back together into a bouquet for the auction, then drove me and it down to the museum.

outside Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum

At 3 o’ clock, I got back to work, dragging the last of the debris to piles behind the garage.

Meanwhile, in Long Beach, after the bazaar day ended at 4 PM, Allan had checked on Fifth Street Park and found the gunnera heavily frosted.

gunnera, Allan’s photos

gunnera tucked in for the winter with leaves to protect the crown from frost.

Lilies got cut down.


cosmos in Fifth Street Park

The reward for this work is that we could have Sunday off instead of driving up to Long Beach to check on plants.

By the time Allan arrived home, I had already seen a photo of his work, sent to me by Cathy of Captain Bob’s Chowder from her restaurant doorway.

When he arrived, I had just started chopping leaves on the driveway with the mower.  Such dust it raised!

Allan’s photo, 5 PM

Allan dismantled the pumpkin head ghost and hand-carted the two heavy benches into the back garden. In the dusk, I used the potting soil from the big pots that had held spooky plants to pot up 23 gallon pots of Allium christophii. That’s the epilogue to Bulb Time!

By evening, the driveway looked like this.

I collapsed into my comfy chair, delighted to find that Autumnwatch had appeared on BritBox TV.

How I adore “the watches”.  Along with nature observation in the Scottish Cairngorms, we visited a garden show with a garden designed to attract wildlife.

It is in three parts….

and is a glorious inspiration.

The key is to not be too tidy.

Together, we watched The Biggest Little Farm, a delightful documentary that Allan had happened upon at the library.  You will be glad of it if you can see it.

The week of social events continues tomorrow with more holiday bazaar for Allan and the 6×6 art auction at 5 PM.

Our Ilwaco

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Three Halloween walkabouts in Ilwaco…

photos by Skyler Walker:


DSC05861 The Munsters at the J’s Cottage


DSC05896 Teresa of the Planter Box


DSC05908 Ilwaco Fire Department


DSC05923 animatronic werewolf


DSC05950.JPGLucy Dagger’s Cottage

DSC05959.JPGLucy Dagger’s household won the top Halloween Spirit certificate from the Merchants Association.


photos by Tony Hofer:


photos by Allan Fritz:


DSC08441 River City Playhouse


DSC08457 Heidi’s Inn


DSC08472 Inn at Harbour Village


The Inn at Harbour Village puts on an elaborate display.



DSC08548 Ilwaco Fire Department


DSC08564 Mayor Gary Forner


DSC08552 I spy Ernie, far right, background!


DSC08763 11 from Stranger Things, left

DSC08764.jpegDSC08767.jpegThe tallies were about 700 trick or treaters in the mid blocks of Lake Street and about 800 at the fire station. Next year, Halloween is on a Saturday and we want ONE THOUSAND, so spread the word!

View original post

Thursday, 31 October 2019

4:16 in the afternoon and we were ready.

ghost to the right is a piece of cloth with an apple inside


one of Judy and Larry’s ghosts
not very successful potting soil bag ghost

Note to self: Next year, cover that back garage window with some orange Halloween window film.

in back, one of Judy and Larry’s tomato cage ghosts

Note to self: Hide blue water bin with black landscape fabric.

treasure chest
and another treasure chest

In the woodland grotto (garage):

Must make the back door spookier.  Will paint it black this summer!


Allan’s mom’s Halloween creatures
candy supply table

Our grown up guests loved all the scary books, and I was told that children looked very closely at the treasure chests.

Joey Ramone (Allan’s photo) before he got put in the cat cage

In its own nook sat the Halloween grey cat art that Judy made in memory of my best friend, Smoky, who died and left me heartbroken two years ago at Halloween.

Allan’s photo

Here come the trick or treaters!

Willa and Jessika from next door (Allan’s photo)
Allan’s photo
Tony, Teresa, Patty, and Scott and Rudy arrive! (Allan’s photo)
Patty in our back garden (Tony’s photo)
Maddy, Jacob and Quincy (Tony’s photo)

MaryBeth, Marlene, Matt, Sarah, Larry, Marilyn, Shelly

in the grotto (Tony’s photo)
Tony’s photo
I had peanut M&Ms in abundance, Scott’s favorite (Tony’s photo)
Tony’s photo
Tony’s photo
Sarah brought organic spuds!
me, J9, Teresa, Marlene, Larry, Shelly, Judy, Cathy, Captain Bob
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

Patty, right, and Teresa H-L handing out candy
Jeff, Sarah and her dogs, Cathy and Captain Bob (Captain Bob’s Chowder)

In the house, we had a table of sweets…

…and a table of savories, with mini corn dogs made on the spot by Scott and Tony, Halloween popcorn made by Scott (with candy corn in it!), hummus made by J9, and assorted cheeses and crackers, Allan’s pumpkin pie, wine from Shelly and Jeff, and hot cider.

Allan’s photo
me, J9, Marlene, MaryBeth, Teresa
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

When Seaview Sarah and Matt arrived, he took on the main candy post.

To the right, a tally is being kept.

I had the pleasure of hearing a teenager say, “It’s like going into the woods!”  Yes!

far right, Lezlie and Winston!
Allan, back from a long walkabout, and Judy

Harry Potter!

Mark, Joseph, and Bella came down from north Ocean Park.

Tony’s photo


Agent Carter (Tony’s photo)

Tony’s photo

One child delivered this note to every household.

Scott, Teresa, and a young dragon
Matt, Lezlie, Tony (Allan’s photo)
Terran (BeeKissed Gardening) came by with two of her dogs (Tony’s photo)

Terran’s dogs loved drinking from our fountain.

Tony’s photo
Tony’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Marlene and Teresa taking a break (Allan’s photo)
Tony’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

Toward the end, Jenna (Queen La De Da) came by with a Halloween Spirit certificate for us.

me, Tony, Patty, Judy, Jenna, Allan, Scott, Rudy

Lucy Dagger, the pirate four doors east, was the winner of the top accolade. You will see why in tomorrow’s post.

As the evening drew to a close, a winged creature whirled by and Allan managed to capture her on film.

By nine o clock, our guests had gone…

…except for Judy and Larry, who stayed till we got enough clean up done to be able to close the garage doors.  A few straggling trick or treaters came by as we dismantled some of Halloween.

Our tally came to 585…

…but our tally sheet had been passed around a lot, and in consulting with neighbours within a block of us, we learned that over 700 was their (more organized and precise) count.  So we are going to say we had at least 600 and surely more like the 700 plus that their household four doors east counted.

Next year, Halloween will be on a Saturday night (with a full moon, or so I hear) and we want to have ONE THOUSAND.  Lucy Dagger and I are already planning how to make that happen.

Allan and I both went on Halloween walkabouts of the town (mine short, his long).  You can see that adventure tomorrow.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

It had gotten cold enough last night for the ponds to have a skim of ice.

Today’s mission  was to finish the Corridor of Spooky Plants and turn the garage into a forest grotto.  I was so grateful that Judy and Larry drove all the way down from Ocean Park to help out.

They are much craftier than I am.  I had seen some pictures last year of ghosts made from tomato cages.  They figured out how to make it happen.

It wasn’t easy to get the milk jug head (which i would never have thought of!) to stay on.

Larry has skills.

They also figured out how to implement my chipper/shredder idea.

I was worried it was too gory a thought already, so I turned down Larry’s offer of a bottle of ketchup for the finishing touch.

Meanwhile, I was cutting and hauling branches and stalks from back yard to front to turn the garage into a woodland grotto. The weather was like a perfect summer day.

white sanguisorba, before…

and after (too tired to move wheelbarrow)

After Judy and Larry departed, I made one tomato cage ghost from a couple of inside out potting soil bags…

…and only one, as it was not very successful.

A spider who had been disturbed by Allan tying some decor to the fence added herself to the decorations.

He also found what appear to be snail eggs.

A friend, Jan M, stopped by to see our progress.  I got to pet her nice dog.

Allan went out in the afternoon to help Jenna move one last large item.

Jenna’s “wishing arch”

He saw that other households had also been enhancing their decorations.

on Spruce Street

He checked the cosmos at the Port of Ilwaco office; they still looked fine despite the cold night.

Thanks to a wise suggestion from Kilyn, the Steveston Gardener, I had saved several baskets of sphagnum moss to tuck around and in the big pots lining the driveway.

I dumped the baskets out and got to work on that so that Allan could use the baskets to collect more maple leaves from the Ilwaco Community Building parking lot.

nice dry leaves

Allan encountered our friend and neighbour Kevin at the community building.  When Kevin got on Allan’s phone and invited us to join him and his family for dinner, I replied that I normally would say no because of being too busy in the midst of the Halloween frenzy—but because he is being deployed, it was important to say yes.

In the late afternoon, afraid the flowers would get frosted if I waited till tomorrow, I picked bouquets for house and garage.  With two hours till dinnertime, Allan brought two heavy benches from the back garden and got the lights strung along the driveway and inside the garage.

The cat bench will be part of the seating in the grotto.

garage as woodland grotto

A combination of gunnera leaves and landscape fabric hid the buckets from view.

I dumped the leaves throughout the scene.

6 PM

one of Judy and Larry’s ghosts

Last year, just as I had despaired that the would-be grotto looked nothing but tacky, I had the idea of putting the leaves down.  The noise of walking on them makes it magic.

We were far enough along that I had no worries about taking time for dinner.  We met Kevin and Ana and their children at the Lost Roo restaurant in Long Beach.  They had snagged the perfect corner booth, tucked away from the big screen televisions.  (It is a sports viewing restaurant.)

Allan’s new buddy

The dinner and the conversation were the sort that makes good memories.  I was so glad we went.

I am partial to the Roo’s ahi tuna tower.

Allan had steak salad, my second favourite dish.

Across the table, the choice was good old fashioned steak and potatoes.

On the way home, we admired some more Halloween decorations half a block away.

When we got home, Allan made two pumpkin pies for tomorrow’s guests.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

I was glad I had picked flowers yesterday evening; we had frost and ice!

For our final preparation, we thoroughly cleaned the front part of the house where party guests would be.  All the last minute clutter (mostly the boxes Halloween came out of) got stuffed into my room at the back, and some branches put in front of the door so that no one would open it.  We arranged plates and cups and cutlery and flowers.  Finally, after noon, I was able to get outside and string cobwebs.

Allan got the apple ghosts ready to hang up. Each is constructed with an apple and a wire hook.

This year, we hung them above the front fence among the cobwebs.

The cobwebs look so tawdry on any day but Halloween that they will only be up till late this evening.

I had arranged the treasure chests yesterday in the grotto.  With the garage door now open for the event, I moved them into place at the front so that the trick or treaters would see them. We had two little fountains running and the Halloween wreath up on the side of the garage door.

The usual time for the very first trick of treaters is around four.  Judy and Larry had arrived before then to help with any last minute arrangements.  At 3:30, I was in the back yard raking up some more of the leaves I’d stashed on the lawn over a week ago, because I did not feel there were quite enough on the grotto floor.

Finally, all was prepared.  The J’s were ready across the street.

Jodie, Jay, and Doug as the Munsters

I checked on Peggy and Robert, three doors down.

They had been carving pumpkins.

Robert’s costume was a foil wrapped “alien protection device” cap.  Which is more dressing up than I did.  Allan dressed as a garden gnome again.

his outfit last year, when our neighbour, Willa, was dressed the same

And finally, it was show time.  We could see the first trick or treaters coming down the next block.

Tomorrow: Halloween at Tangly Cottage.






Tuesday, 29 October 2019

I was mighty glad we had some days off, because we had much to do.

Next door, Sue, “That Lady with a Tractor”, worked on clearing blackberries from the back yard.  Allan took some photos.

The blackberries did not win the battle.

I have never seen the back of the garage before!

A huge stump from a tree that was cut down years ago, and then had a rock-edged flower bed built around it, had become a haven for blackberries and bindweed. It proved daunting to the tractor…although the rock edge got mostly dismantled, after the willow branches hanging over it were trimmed.

I have my eye on the disintegrating wood for compost and mulch and on the rocks for garden bed edging.  (I have permission to scavenge them.)

By one o clock, I was able to start cutting material from the garden for the Corridor of Spooky Plants.

lily stalks and Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' will be part of it. Lily stalks and Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ will be part of it.

Tomorrow, I will be turning the garage into a woodland grotto, using long branches from the dark-leaved physocarpus.

Callicarpa ‘Profusion’ (beautyberry) will not get cut.

Skooter supervised.

after cutting the lily stalks after cutting the lily stalks

As I scrounged around for plant decor, I found some big branches down from last week’s wind.

That’s why we avoid the bogsy wood on windy days.

In the driveway, the taller stalks and branches got tied to the iron fence and the rebar posts, and the shorter ones got stuffed into pots full of soil.  It took many trips from back yard to front yard.

Jazmin enjoyed the bits of debris.

Skooter observed from next door….

…and later, worn out, napped in the laundry room sink.

In the late afternoon, the Girl Scouts came around from house to house on the Ilwaco flatlands, bringing candy from the Ilwaco candy drive to make sure that we all had enough for the hordes.

Allan’s photos

down the street at Missy’s house
and another house on the next block

I took our candy drive bags to our new neighbors down the block, giving me an opportunity to meet them. I learned that Peggy is an artist.  You can see her beautiful paintings on her blog, here. I am looking foward to a rainy day of perusing all of it, and I look forward to seeing what she paints in Ilwaco.

Peggy and Robert were glad of the extra candy.  Kevin, whose house they are renting, later told us that during his first year in Ilwaco, he had thought the candy drive was cute, because he expected just a few kids.  (We had not met him then to warn him!)  He had run to the little local store three times during that evening to replenish.  The same thing happened to us during our first Halloween in Ilwaco in 2010 (before the candy drive was initiated).  Allan made at least one emergency candy run to the little store. (No one had warned us, either!)

At 5:40 PM, we had gotten as far as we could today with the outdoor decorations.

Last year, I had the pots pulled forward to make a narrower and spookier entryway.  This year, I will let it be wider because we noticed that the costumes are getting bigger every year.

Allan went out at dusk to help Jenna move a load to her Long Beach Mermaid Sandcastle event centre. I turned to setting up the garage with buckets all down the sides, partly filled with water and ready to receive branches and stalks tomorrow.

home after dark (Allan’s photo)

Tomorrow, we have as much if not more to do.  The Corridor of Spooky plants started because we moved to Lake Street in mid-October 2010 and had to pull together some quick Halloween decor. It was a big hit with the trick or treaters of all ages (although some little ones found it almost too spooky.) Last year, because of bad weather, we moved it to the garage driveway instead of the narrow front door entry and learned that we had been missing some of the larger costumes all along. So the garage woodland grotto is now a part of the yearly preparations, because a spooky plant corridor leading to a normal, boring garage simply will not do.



Monday, 28 October 2019

Port of Ilwaco

We continued with the port bulbing in three more beds, by the Powell Gallery…


…which got some narcissi and 50 Anemone blanda, a small bulb that looks like pebbles.


We continued with more bulbs in the curbside beds by Time Enough Books and the two westernmost beds.  The boatyard gets no new bulbs this year.

Mike’s garden

At Mike’s garden a few blocks east of ours, we planted up the front of the garden where we’d removed two sickly evergreens. I look forward to seeing the blank spaces filled with beauty.


Allan’s photo


Mike’s garden

I had been waiting for one last very small bulb delivery from McClure and Zimmerman.  We had checked before Mike’s and again after.  Still no bulbs.  Perhaps, I said, they would be delivered to the post office, so we must check on our way out of town…but first we must plant a few bulbs under a new street tree.

Meanwhile, I looked at the email from the bulb company.  Woe!  I had not ordered from them for many years.  I saw on the email that somehow they had dredged up my old address on the other side of the boatyard.  I called Jon, who bought my house, and left a message. It would not be the first time he had gotten a bulb delivery by mistake.

It was not till we got to our next job east of Long Beach that I realized we had forgotten to check the post office.  I called them and indeed the bulbs were there, necessitating a “never mind, sorry” phone call to Jon.  (I felt pretty stupid.) While Allan drove back to get the package, I set up the bulbs and started planting at

Diane’s garden.

There were still plenty of bulbs to plant in the septic vault garden when Allan returned after a delay to wait for the post office to open after lunch.



I am concerned that voles are tunneling through this bed.  Diane swears by putting some lye in the tunnels…and so we did, feeling rather mean.  But I do not want the voles eating the tulips.



down the hatch

We pulled the cosmos and clipped the lilies while adding some narcissi to the roadside garden.


tired cosmos, Allan’s photo


roadside garden, after (Allan’s photo)

We did a bit of clipping, but no bulbing, next door at the Red Barn.


Allan’s photo

Long Beach

Today’s small order of bulbs had some Tulip batalinii ‘Red Jewel’ for the planters by two businesses with red storefronts, Cottage Bakery and Stormin’ Normans.  It was worth a side trip to be able to say that the bulbing jobs were done.  The bulb box also contained a “free surprise’ of a package of chionodoxa.  I was well chuffed.

I am worried that there will be heavy frost Thursday night, and then we would have to wait till Sunday to clean up blackened foliage because of Allan being at the holiday bazaar.  I would rather not schlep through town with a wheelie bin, garbage bags, and no vehicle.


planter looking good…for now

There is no point in worrying about this.  I can only hope the predicted frost is a light one.

Nearby, I wondered if this little dog was real.


It was.


at home

I sorted and planted my own bulbs in a frenzy and got done just before dark, amazing even myself.  I had been sure that I would be planting my own bulbs tomorrow, especially after our foolish and forgetful post office delay.


Our reward for three days of pushing hard is three days off to enjoy a leisurely preparation for our Halloween festivities.


Sunday, 27 October 2019

We continued our bulbing mission, which is about half as much as previous years.

Ilwaco Post Office

The post office got a few select bulbs. After planting:

I remember feeling last spring that the post office garden took ages to look interesting.  I hope that adding some more iris reticulata and species tulips will help. There should already be plenty of crocus in there.

Ilwaco Fire Station

The fire station volunteer garden also got just a few new bulbs, so I hope that last year’s come back.

The Depot Restaurant

The Depot garden got some tulips and narcissi, only tall ones because short bulbs don’t get seen behind the parking lot logs.

I suggested Allan trim the bamboo, mainly because I realized I could use it for Halloween decor.


He also trimmed some giant miscanthus that was poking into the dining deck.

With some cotoneaster that I had cut back, we scored a good load of Halloween decor.

The sprinklers are turned off at the Depot.  In order to keep the window box annuals alive till a hard frost, we must remember to hand water them once a week.  They are under deep eaves and so get no rain.

Roxanne of the Basket Case Greenhouse plants up the window boxes.

Boreas Inn

The choices are limited for this garden because of deer.  Tulips would get munched. We planted narcissi, some alliums, and some muscari and a couple of lilies in the more protected garden suite flower bed.

placing bulbs in the west garden (Allan’s photo)
Allan’s photo
Salvias ‘Amistad’ and ‘Hot Lips’ by the garden suite (Allan’s photo)

Long Beach

We took a break from bulbing to trim tatty foliage in three downtown planters.  On the way south after that bit of work, we saw this interesting family.  I thought “gorillas”, but later in the day, I saw them referred to on local Facebook as sasquatches.

Allan’s photos


We made a quick stop at home to offload our bulky bamboo and miscanthus debris and then continued planting bulbs at the port.

narcissus bulbs (Allan’s photo)
planting through fabric and river rock by Ilwaco Bakery (Allan’s photo)

The curbside gardens were not originally installed by us…which is why there are still three with river rock, which is so hard to work on.

The new Ilwaco Bakery building and residence is coming along apace.

We look forward to it re-opening as a sit down café, and we hear tell it will have croissants and pain au chocolat!  There has been nowhere around here (not even in north coast Oregon) to buy that sort of treat.

curbside bed north of Dave Jensen’s architecture office

Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’ (Allan’s photo)

With bright sunlight and the white-flower-photography problem, I couldn’t get a good photo, but look! I grew some white borage from seed!

I hadn’t even known it came in white.  My source was the Irish seed company, Seedaholic.

We packed a lot of new bulbs in the south side Port Office garden.  It had lost most of its bulbs during a remodel of its south wall in 2018, and I had not been able to replant until spring 2019.

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

Two Finnish tourists asked us a few questions.

They joked that Finnish is “the world’s most useless language.”  (I’m not sure why.) They had only learned today that Ilwaco has a strong Finnish background from its early settlers.  When I moved here, I was told, “You’ll never be accepted unless you were born here or are Finnish!”  That has changed over the years as new folk have moved into the town.  The Finnish fellows looked pleased when I told them that on the peninsula we have Wirkkalas, Penttilas, and Saaris.

After the Finnish folks had strolled on, I noticed that the tide was especially low.

Allan’s photo

We kept planting till sunset started to pinkify the sky and the water.

I couldn’t erase the port from the bulb list; we still have three more curbside beds to plant tomorrow.